This post is part two in a two-part series. Read part one here.
Are you ready for the holiday season? Do you know what your customers’ expectations are and are you prepared to meet (and exceed) them? This holiday season – and year-round – be sure to be prepared and to do so early.
How to Prepare (and Excel) This Holiday Season
With the likely increase in ecommerce sales and customer expectations based on last year’s deliveries (or lack thereof), ecommerce stores need to use a strategic plan in order to keep everyone happy.
It starts by working with the right fulfillment center. Before an order is placed, you need to communicate with your fulfillment or dropship partners about the expected increases in demand. Take time now to review last year’s sales numbers and apply the expected industry wide increases. Creating an accurate holiday forecast for orders can help both you and your fulfillment center prepare for the season.
Your holiday forecast should also include any special sales, extended service hours (if you operate a brick and mortar store in addition to ecommerce), free shipping offers and anything else that could take your sales and delivery needs outside of normal range. As the holiday season stats to ramp up, check in daily with important numbers for freight, customer service, technology and payment so that everyone is on the same page.
In addition to working with your fulfillment center, you should make things easier for your customers by providing late shipping cutoffs – but not too late. Consumers expect to be able to use express shipping and get what they want when they want it. Streamline your shipping processes by asking your fulfillment center to evaluate your process and make any changes now. For example, you can save money – and time – by working with a 2-day shipping service rather than focusing on air vs. ground.
Use free shipping strategically. Consumers may abandon carts due to high shipping costs – and the likelihood that they’ll abandon during the holiday season is even higher. Over half of shoppers are willing to add more to their order to qualify for free shipping – so use this to your advantage! Consider suggesting complementary products during checkout so consumers can easily add to their order and qualify. Be sure to publicize your free shipping through email marketing and throughout your site so the threshold for the discount is obvious.
Keep customers informed. Finally, keep your customers in the loop through email, social media and on your website. Don’t be afraid during this busy season to email as often as necessary to let customers know that orders have been received, items have been packed and items have shipped. Communication will help improve the customer experience during this hectic time and keep you in their good graces.