The 2019 peak season is quickly approaching. What's more, many retail experts say that we should expect to see e-commerce sales this holiday season to eclipse 2018’s record-setting pace.
With that said, most consumer-direct deliveries will be sent via parcel shipping. And whether your company opts for USPS, UPS, or FedEx shipping, there are a few helpful things you can do that will help you avoid delays, improve customer service, and ensure on-time delivery to your customers.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to give you the 6 most important tips for shipping orders with parcel carriers during the 2019 holiday season.
Be Proactive with Parcel Shipping Deadlines
In recent years, holiday shopping has largely moved away from traditional brick and mortar stores and more toward online sales.
A few years ago, online shopping was mainly a convenience for the time-strapped consumer who waited till the last minute to purchase their holiday goodies. But as of 2019, it is fairly safe to say that a large majority of shopping of all kinds is done online.
The key for e-commerce retailers and fulfillment centers for the holiday rush is to ensure shipments are sent as quickly as possible.
It’s quite common for carriers like FedEx, UPS, and USPS to expand their pick-up hours during peak season. Especially for high-volume shippers.
Nonetheless, waiting for the last minute to package and prepare shipments to take advantage of these holiday changes can backfire.
First and foremost, contact your parcel partners and inquire about their shipping deadlines in regards to the holiday rush. This will help you plan your order fulfillment strategy just a bit better. Likewise, with this information in hand, you can advise customers as to when to plan their purchases for the fastest delivery.
Create Structured Fulfillment Hours
The holiday season generally increases online orders significantly with most online merchants. This, of course, means more package fulfillment and the need to either outsource pick and packing to a 3PL. Alternatively, proactive shippers could hire temporary or seasonal employees.
One thing to consider is the creation of structured fulfillment hours that allows for packing time to be laser-focused. Several online stores review their previous year’s sales and take advantage of other reporting tools that help them forecast sales for the upcoming season.
Review your previous year's sales and create structured shifts for order fulfillment and processing.
Stay Ahead of Inventory Levels
An out of stock situation is something today’s online business simply can’t afford – especially from November through December.
To avoid this, online merchants must invest in inventory control solutions that allow them to maintain accurate counts around the clock. Additionally, the biggest benefit of a full-fledged inventory control system can help plan for an upcoming holiday rush by analyzing order fulfillment, shipping costs, and managing bulk or volume orders from suppliers.
Promote Early Purchasing
There are some marketing experts that suggest taking advantage of late orders by creating promotional offers of those last-minute shopping deals.
However, recent reports indicate that more consumers are taking advantage of Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales following Thanksgiving. The week after tends to be a slower period for online stores.
So why not take advantage of this slow period by promoting sales in the first and second week of December? This will permit you to fulfill orders quickly and ensure timely delivery prior to the Christmas rush.
Using high-quality packaging materials is a great way to reduce the potential of damage to customer orders. And since nobody wants to spend time sending back damaged goods, it’s a proactive and smart business strategy all-around.
Prepare for Returns
It’s estimated that nearly 10% of all goods ordered as presents are returned to retailers.
While the holiday season is a peak one for e-commerce, the month of January can be daunting for processing customer returns. For this reason, it’s a smart idea for any eCommerce or online merchant to create a plan for returns sent in by customers.
Investing in automated solutions such as pre-printed return labels and return instructions on your outbound orders is a great way to streamline this all-too-common process.