Ah, shipping. It’s one of the biggest worries for retailers all year; especially so during the holiday season. What are the costs? How do I get things out the door? How am I going to handle the increase in workload?
If you don’t have an automated solution, like Amazon FBA, it can be tough to handle these questions on your own. That’s why we partnered with ShipStation to provide you some of their top holiday shipping tips.
Here are four questions every retailer should be able to answer this holiday season:
Q: What does my space look like?
A: The key to maintaining order and sanity during the holiday season is to start with an organized space. It’s easy to avoid cleaning things up when you’re pretty comfortable with the chaos. But trust us - it’s time. Make sure you’re maximizing your space, moving most popular items by your packing and shipping station. Clearly label your storage area and make it easy to find things. And be sure you’re organizing your warehouses in a way that makes sense for your team. For more organization and warehouse tips, see what ShipStation says over here.
Q: How much should I charge for shipping?
A: This is always a tough one to answer, as it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Free shipping can be a tricky strategy, and retailers are often left in the dark about whether or not it’s worth it. Ultimately, you should see “free shipping” as a marketing cost, not a fulfillment cost. It’s a means to incentivize customers to buy more, so if categorizing this under promotional efforts - do so. Last year, we found that retailers who offered free shipping saw a 10% increase in revenue. So if you’re considering it, perhaps test it out and see if it works for your business. Check out our full post on free shipping for more info.
If you’re not willing to risk the cost, you can also offer a flat rate shipping charge. You’d need to know the average cost of shipping a package, but you could change the flat rate based on what customers order. Another option is you can just charge whatever you’re charged with a plugin that allows your customers to see live rates at check-out. To learn more about these options, check out our full holiday guide.
Q: How am I communicating with customers about their orders?
A: With the “on-demand” mentality these days, shoppers are always antsy to get a package they ordered. During the holidays, that anxiety gets turned up a notch. Be sure to ease the tension and clear the runway for your customer service team by automating communication with customers. Make sure you send an order confirmation email and a shipping tracking email with every shipment. Provide clear instructions on how customers can get in touch with you and even offer a FAQ page to provide more context.
Q: What do I include in my packages?
A: For most online retailers, your product is the only way you connect with your customers in person. Never underestimate the package it comes in. Of course there are standard items you want to include like packing slips, receipts, and care instructions. But during this upcoming season, add a boost of holiday cheer. Include a thank you note or small token of appreciation. You can even include a discount offer, encouraging them to come back and shop during the new year.
Looking for more tips on how to handle your fulfillment and other inventory strategies during the holiday season? Check out our full Holiday Retail Business Guide today!