This is Part 2 of a two-part series by our trusted tech partner, eShipper, an online platform that allows businesses to integrate, automate and save on shipping. Part 2 focuses on how to overcome major pain points when it comes to shipping solutions.
Part 2: Shipping solutions
Get holiday-ready with Part 2 of The Ultimate Shipping and Fulfillment Guide. In this guide, I’ve outlined the top 4 pain points and solutions when it comes to your holiday shipping and fulfillment strategy. But before you dive in, go back and read Part 1: Planning if you haven’t already.
Pain Point #1: Using the wrong shipping provider
You may be satisfied with a certain carrier throughout the year, but it’s important that you reevaluate for the holiday season to make sure they can keep up with your demands.
While cost is important, it’s not the only factor in the decision-making process. Here are some quick tips on what to look out for:
- Deadlines: Familiarize yourself with carrier cut-off dates as this can make a huge impact on your overall promotion strategy and customer satisfaction. Make sure that your holiday sales and promotions align with deadlines, so customers are buying before the cut-off date. This ensures that the package gets to your customers without any foreseeable delays. Check out the 2019 carrier deadlines for Canada and the USA.
- Capacity: Smaller carriers sometimes have an edge over larger ones during the holiday season. This is because they’re likely not as inundated with shipments as the bigger players. They have more capacity, i.e. space in their trucks to accommodate more packages. This, in turn, ensures faster transit time, as multiple trips aren’t needed to empty and fill their trucks.
- Dependability: You want to make sure that the carrier you choose has a proven track record when handling holiday sales. Take a look at the top 5 most reliable carriers in Canada or the most dependable delivery services in USA for the holiday season.
- Same-day shipping solutions: You should definitely consider jumping on the same-day shipping bandwagon early. Not only will it entice more shoppers to buy from your online store, not having a same-day shipping option could actually have a detrimental impact on your younger customer demographic. 49% of shoppers are more likely to shop online if there are same-day delivery options available, and 56% of shoppers ages 18-24 will abandon the cart if same-day shipping isn’t available. Choose a same-day shipping service that’s both affordable and customer-centric to boost your overall customer retention during the holiday season.
- Integrations: If you’re a Shopify user, chances are you’re already using automated shipping rates through an app store integration. For platforms like BigCommerce and Amazon, shipping rate plugins are available, but less apparent. Your best bet is either to use a technology like ShipStation to link your online store or marketplace to your own carrier rates or get pre-negotiated carrier rates through an order management software like E-Marketplace Services.
Pain Point #2: Fulfillment personnel aren’t prepared for the holiday rush
In Part 1: Planning, I mentioned that you can either use your own warehouse or an e-commerce fulfillment center to fulfill your orders. Whichever option you decide to go with, make sure that you have enough warehouse staff to handle your expected orders.
If you have any specific holiday packaging requirements, ship your materials to your warehouse or fulfillment center well in advance, and train warehouse staff on how to package your holiday shipments.
If you can, physically go into the warehouse to show them how it’s done, but if that’s not possible, make sure to send step-by-step images and instructions or a pick-and-pack video to your dedicated manager at the warehouse. They can then train their staff to meet your requirements. Ask your account manager for photos of 1-2 packages for your approval before they get sent out to ensure that your instructions were met.
Pain Point #3: Mismanaged returns
Below are some solutions you can use to process returns and deal with complaints, if and when they arise:
- Automation: Use an automated returns software like Returnly. The software integrates with your online store and automates 99% of your returns processing. It provides valuable reporting and analytics to close the loop in your customer’s post-purchase process.
- 3PLs: If you’re outsourcing your shipping to a Third-Party Logistics Provider (3PL), they will usually handle all returns and claims directly.
- Data collection: Use returns data to reevaluate your marketing and shipping strategy. If you’re receiving a lot of returns due to damaged items, you will either need to be more diligent with packaging materials and process or choose a different shipping carrier. If your customers returned an item because it wasn’t what they expected, create clearer product descriptions and use better images with multiple angles and zoom functions on your site. If you’re selling apparel, consider adding a sizing chart.
- Customer service: Prepare to deal with complaints. A return doesn’t always have to turn into a negative experience if you’re well-prepared. Train your customer service team on how to effectively manage complaints, and even turn them into new sales. The same goes for your social media manager. Whether you’re handling social media yourself or it’s done by another employee, make sure to act quickly to resolve any issues that are addressed. You can easily turn a negative review into a positive experience if you make your customers feel heard and provide a solution rather than a reaction.
Pain Point #4: Damaged Products
Rigorous handling can damage your products. Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely avoid damages during transit, but you can certainly take proactive measures to protect your products:
- Proper packaging: If you’re not using a fulfillment center or warehouse with trained personnel, make sure to safeguard your products using the correct packaging guidelines.
- Insurance: Insure your shipments. Many carriers offer free insurance for shipments under a $100 value. Educate yourself on insurance and when you need it, and figure out whether your products are eligible for insurance by your carrier.
Use these tips to seal in your holiday shipping strategy and boost customer loyalty. By making a conscious effort when choosing your carriers, being diligent about your fulfillment guidelines, and streamlining the returns and post-purchase experience, you’ll be able to delight your shoppers and grow your customer base this holiday season.