The holiday season has officially started, building up to the busiest and most disruptive period for E-commerce businesses in terms of delivery. Quick and cheap shipping options that were viable in the month before Christmas are now just a throwback from the pre-pandemic past. The main reason for this is the upsurge in online shopping in Ireland and globally.
According to a recent study, two in three Irish people are still likely to choose online shopping options over in-store holiday purchases. During out of peak season, this would increase the fulfillment workload of retailers up to 10%, while in the run-up to Christmas that statistic could rocket a whole lot further. In 2020, we also saw many people spending their holidays on virtual group dinners, as they hoped for fast and reliable deliveries to their loved ones as a new form of socially distanced gift-making. Even though this trend is more likely to dwindle over the course of the pandemic, we still expect to see many people being unable to travel, thus sending presents via couriers cross country, or internationally.
What to avoid this holiday season?
Less traveling and more trepidation with traditional crowded shopping areas equals a busy delivery season for all of us. Along with that, many retailers are probably expecting to handle delays in delivery times, higher shipping costs in this period, and every shop owner’s worst nightmare- an excess of customer complaints about missing holiday packages. To prevent the lasting impact of such events, businesses must be well equipped with information, resources, and a shipping strategy that will serve well both consignors and consignees during the shopping rush in 2021.
What is the shipping timeline of your customer?
Many retailers are already receiving a huge swell of holiday orders, a lot of them starting as early as October time and reaching a sharp peak around the time of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The shopping rush for most customers in Ireland is likely to proceed full force in the weeks that lead up to the festive period. Knowing the timeline and the shopping behavior of your customers can help you make a better estimate of the tentative lead times of your deliveries. Remember that most courier providers are working at full capacity in this of the year, resulting in long delays caused by excess workload and other fulfillment roadblocks such as poor weather conditions, worse traffic congestion, and so on. Our general advice for retailers is not to leave deliveries for the last minute and give them enough time in advance to place their shipping orders. Giving the parcel journey a week from point to point is usually the safest way to ensure that the delivery will arrive on time or early.
How well can you handle same-day deliveries?
In the run-up to Christmas, the majority of online shoppers are looking out for same-day or next-day shipping options that are guaranteed to work timely and efficiently. Offering this as a solution is a great perk that can boost your business in this period and bring you many happy and returning customers in the following months. However, every responsible and thoughtful retailer should consider the same-day fulfillment process that precedes the transit leg of the parcel’s journey. We can all agree that Christmas is the most stressful time of the year for most E-commerce businesses and the logistics sector in tandem. This is why we advise our customers to consider their order placing limitations and think, in reality, about the actual order quantities they can handle in a day as well as the capabilities of the carrier you are working with. Zendfast is near at hand with our local business partners and we aim for maintaining excellent communication in this period in order to avoid long lead times and potential delays.
Transparency is everything
We’ve learned from our shared experience with many E-commerce businesses across Ireland that transparency is critical during the peak shopping season. Businesses must ensure that they set straightforward and accurate delivery expectations for their customers. Promising your customers impossible ship-by dates will undoubtedly incur poor satisfaction with your brand and services. Instead, retailers should ideally give accurate estimates that reflect the capabilities of the carrier and their fulfillment centers. We are well aware that this is something businesses find hard to succumb to in their attempts to attract more customers and generate peak sales. However, if your reputation as a business is important for you in the long haul, we advise you to stick with the conventional methods that are proven to work well over the years. Better transparency regarding your shipping capabilities and avoiding rush fulfillment mishaps could give you better credibility as a brand altogether.
The busiest season of the year is coming, but that does not necessarily mean the most stressful one! If retailers plan strategically their fulfilment capacity and communicate this clearly with their carriers and customers, there should not be any room for errors.