Retailers around the globe have rapidly ramped up for the holiday shopping season by hiring additional employees, distributing seasonal sale ads, and meticulously managing inventory. As a small business, you might not have the capital to invest in extra seasonal employees to handle the influx of seasonal purchases. E-commerce sales are expected to reach $111 to $114 billion during the 2017 holiday season, according to Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast. The holiday season is competitive. More people shopping online is great news for eCommerce businesses, but it comes with its own challenges. Here are 4 tips to for small business success during the holidays.
1. Shop around
Make sure you evaluate your shipping carrier wisely. Are you getting the best rates? Does the carrier offer any added flexibility around the holidays? If you are looking for extra attention, browsing regional carriers might be a solution for you. Regional carriers are usually agiler when handling special shipping requests by being able to extend pickup windows for customers later into the evening and retrieve packages on Friday to be delivered on Saturday. Because there are fewer hands on your packages, this means less lost and damaged shipments to hassle with and the smaller shipping area guarantees better on-time delivery. Complimenting your shipping portfolio by engaging regional carriers or the U.S. Postal Service can trim away extra costs tacked on by the shipping giants.
Read more: Are regional carriers right for me?
2. Develop a strategy
The most important thing to note is that Christmas falls on a Monday this year. Since weekend deliveries often cost more money, prepare to ship early to have packages arrive on Friday, Dec. 22. Clearly educate your customers on the shipping terms and the importance of getting those presents picked out a few days earlier this year so they can be sitting under the Christmas tree on time. Optimize your website to prevent any downtime or high bounce rates. Holiday web traffic can create a swarm of customers coming to your website, especially last-minute shoppers. Be ready to receive their orders with an instant, tap of the finger.
3. Prepare for post-holiday returns
Retailers are just as busy right after the holidays as they were before. Customers are looking for affordable shipping rates with a flexible return policy. Easy, quick returns are essential to keeping customers satisfied and expanding your small business. Amazon is leading the way by offering optional returnless refunds and an “automatically authorized” for return option in order to ensure sellers that don’t ship from Amazon facilities still provide the same experience for all customers. Returns management impacts customer experience, supply chain efficiency, inventory, accounting and customer service. Pretty much every part of your eCommerce business. Work with your carrier to discuss the most efficient return policy for your small business. You don’t want a customer to abandon their cart because of an expensive, rigid or non-existent return policy.
4. Audit your shipments automatically
The last thing you need is refunds that you rightfully deserve not being returned to you. The advantage of shipment auditing is it eliminates any time or resource requirements on your part. Automated parcel audits open up space in your business to grow. At the end of the day, you can focus on your core business without getting into the weeds of lost, damaged or late packages. Many companies choose Share a Refund to make the most of their time and redirect team members to concentrate their efforts on strategic business-oriented tasks. Consider incorporating shipment auditing and recovery into your supply chain strategy for the new year.
With major carriers increasing their annual rates, substantial shipping costs are here to stay. For many small businesses, a small time investment can reduce the hit to your bottom line. Carefully planning for the holiday season, including any unexpected challenges, will help diminish any stress. If shipment auditing and recovery isn’t part of your strategy, contact Share a Refund to ensure you aren’t shipping profits out the door.