Brace yourself for another record-breaking holiday shipping season. An estimated 850-950 million packages will be delivered during the holiday season. This means merchants need to have a rock-solid shipping strategy to deal with the surge of shipments.
So, how do merchants ace the holiday shopping season and avoid making common shipping mistakes this time of year? For starters, you’ll want to avoid missing important shipping deadlines to prevent unhappy customers. Plus, shipping insurance, a clear communications policy, and establishing a straightforward returns policy rank high in eCommerce shipping mistakes to avoid.
To learn more, continue reading this guest article by Easyship about the top 10-holiday shipping mistakes to avoid. That way, you can handle peak season shipping like a pro.
1. Not Meeting Carrier Cutoffs for Dec. 25 Deadline
The holiday season is busier than ever, and customers want their packages by Dec. 25. Twenty-five percent of consumers are concerned about holiday shipping delays this season. So, merchants need to stay on top of their game by meeting carrier deadlines.
Though merchants can’t predict shipping delays, it’s still their responsibility to make sure they meet postal service deadlines. All shipping services have different carrier deadlines from FedEx 2nd Day Air, USPS Priority Mail to ground service pickup and delivery. To curb this issue, merchants can check for the latest send-by date by checking couriers' holiday shipping calendars.
Here’s an overview of some popular courier services and the holiday shipping deadlines to be aware of:
- FedEx 2nd Day Air: Express critical service with delivery in 1-2 business days. Prices start at $54.70 for a 3-pound package from NYC to Los Angeles. Packages must be mailed by Dec. 22 for delivery by Dec. 25 in the United States
- USPS Priority Mail Express: Express critical service with delivery in 1-2 business days. Prices start at $26.60 for domestic delivery. Packages must be mailed by Dec. 20 for delivery by Christmas Day
- UPS 2nd Day Air: Express delivery in 1-2 business days. Prices start at $51.06 for a 3-pound package from NYC to Los Angeles. Packages must be mailed by Dec. 22 for delivery by Dec. 25
- DHL Express Worldwide: Delivery service in 1-6 business days. Prices start at $99.81 for a 3-pound package from London to NYC. Packages must be mailed by Dec. 22 for delivery by December 25
Overall, your customers expect their package to arrive by a certain time. And, it's the merchant’s responsibility to make sure that the carrier cutoff dates are communicated. Therefore, merchants need to pay attention to cutoff dates for delivery services.
2. Not Using Shipping Insurance
Shipping insurance gives customers and merchants the peace of mind they need about the safety of their shipment. Fortunately, USPS, FedEx, and UPS offer $100 of shipping insurance for customers. But, customers often want more protection, especially for holiday shipments and high-value items.
Here’s why shipping insurance is valuable for customers during this Christmas season:
- Protects your shipments from damage, theft, or loss in transit
- Insures high-value items like electronics, jewelry, and other expensive items
52 percent of consumers say they are worried about their package being stolen during the holiday season. This means it's even more important to take advantage of shipping insurance so you can have the protection you need.
3. Not Providing Seasonal Promotions
Seventy-nine percent of consumers say free shipping entices them to make online purchases. To encourage shopping, eCommerce merchants should consider offering free shipping if the customer's order value is over $100. These deals are commonly found on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all up until Christmas Day to drive profits.
Here are some popular businesses that offer free shipping as a seasonal promotion:
- Amazon: Amazon Prime offers members free two-day shipping. For non-members, free international Amazon shipping is available on orders $25 and more
- Walmart: Walmart offers free 2-day international shipping for members, and free shipping for non-members for orders $35+
- Toys’ R Us: Free international shipping for orders over $29
Offering free shipping or express services remains the top incentive for increasing sales during the holiday season. So, to stay competitive, merchants should offer seasonal promotions for free shipping or express critical service.
4. Avoid a Bad Communication System
Having a good communication policy with your customers should be at the forefront of every eCommerce business. Customers want to know where their parcel is at every step of the way, especially during the holiday season.
More than 80% of shoppers feel regular order communication is needed. Plus, 83% of customers expect regular communication about their purchases. Communicating with customers is as simple as providing tracking information, updates on shipping changes, or delays.
5. Failing to Establish a Solid Return Policy
Let’s face it, holiday returns are inevitable, especially with the surge of holiday shopping amongst consumers. Studies show that eCommerce holiday returns can be as high as 30%. This means that eCommerce merchants need to have a solid returns policy for their customers.
For instance, a good return policy should be able to answer questions, such as:
- Who pays for shipping?
- How are duties and taxes handled?
- Do you need additional shipping paperwork?
A return policy is meant to encourage customers to buy from you again. This means you want to make sure your customers clearly understand the returns procedure, especially with the surge of holiday shipments.
6. Not Using Custom Packaging for Shipments
Eighty percent of customers say they are more likely to purchase a product that creates a personalized shipping experience. While custom packaging may not be a deal-breaker, it’s a nice touch to add, especially for your holiday shipments.
USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other major couriers offer free packaging available at your local post office or courier website. However, this doesn’t include custom packaging options like adding your business logo to the side of the shipping box. So, how do eCommerce merchants create custom packaging boxes for their shipments?
To remain competitive amidst the surge of holiday shipments, merchants should consider custom packaging for a memorable unboxing experience.
7. Failing to Connect with a Shipping Platform
Utilizing a shipping platform to streamline your shipping process can be a great asset to your eCommerce business. Here are some benefits to using a shipping platform to streamline your shipping process:
- Shipping discounts on retail prices
- Automatically print shipping labels
Sync orders and shipping details from multiple couriers
Merchants looking to scale their business globally should consider using a shipping platform to streamline their shipping processes. Easyship, for instance, saves users up to 70% discounted shipping rates on 250+ couriers. Now, you can save more money on shipping.
8. Failing to Establish a Warehouse Management Strategy
As an ecommerce merchant, it’s essential to have a reliable warehouse management system. That way, you can ensure customer satisfaction, especially during the holiday season.
Here are some of the ways a solid warehouse management system can help organize your storage facility:
- Reduces storage costs
- Increases accuracy in inventory
- Improves service
Handle peak season shipping like a pro with an optimized warehouse management strategy. Easyship partners with global warehouses to provide merchants with the best way to reach their customers across the globe.
9. Failing to Validate Delivery Address
You don’t want the mistake of shipping a package to the wrong address, especially during the busiest shipping season. That’s where address validation comes into play. Address validating is a step in the eCommerce process that helps verify a specific order’s shipping address.
One in three customers says they abandon online cart shopping because of a complicated checkout process. Having said that, merchants should take the necessary steps to use AVS tools to limit checkout errors. For example, Easyship’s Automated Label Generator automatically generates all important shipment documents. This way, you can have a frictionless shipping experience by printing out important shipping documents.
10. Guessing Shipping Weight and Size
Guessing shipping weight and size is one way to experience unexpected shipping costs. Your final shipping cost is determined by factors such as package dimensions and weight, so underestimating your package dimensions will inevitably result in unexpected shipping rates.
This shipping error is easily avoidable, so make sure you don’t miss this important step in the shipping process.
How to Ace This Holiday Season
By now, you should be well-equipped to take on holiday shipping. But first, let’s recap some of the main mistakes to avoid this Christmas season:
- Avoid missing carrier cutoffs for Dec. 25 deadline
- Avoid not using shipping insurance
- Avoid a bad communication system
Shipping during the holidays doesn't have to be stressful. That's why it’s vital to make sure you keep these important tips in mind. Easyship can make the holiday season stress-free with high-volume discount rates on 250+ couriers. Plus, shipping tools like our shipping rates calculator, automated label generator, and branding suite help create a frictionless holiday shipping experience.