Christmas Shipping And Order Fulfilment Tips↘
Experts have predicted that this year’s holiday season will be no exception to the record-breaking sales trend that we’ve seen across the festive period in previous years.
According to Deloitte, holiday sales in 2021 are expected to surpass a total of $1.3 trillion starting from November, ending in January 2022.
As ecommerce sales have increased from 11% to 15% since last Christmas, these figures come as no surprise.
However, supply chain disruptions and shipping delays will be a sure thing this season due to the ripple effect of the pandemic which has resulted in additional online orders being placed.
Other disturbances may include; shipping strikes, labour shortages, limited shipping containers, freight congestion and port congestion as a result of higher-order volumes which have caused shipping carriers to operate well above their standard capacity.
Merchants should be aware that their business may fall victim to major delays when it comes to Christmas shipping during the festive period. So, it’s important to be prepared and get started with a strategy to ensure that customers receive their orders ahead of the holidays.
To keep buyers happy, many merchants will have already mapped out a holiday shipping strategy that will act as the be-all and end-all of their order fulfilment operations.
However, if your store is yet to implement one, we have a few simple last-minute tips that will give your brand’s Christmas shipping strategy a boost:
N0.1: Meeting Shipping Carrier Deadlines 🚚
Whether your business generates record-breaking sales or sells its goods on a smaller scale, store owners will still need to get their products out to their customers in the expected timeframe.
As you may have already experienced, shipping carrier deadlines have been impacted over the festive period this year.
So, while merchants won’t be able to predict shipping carrier delays, store owners can play their part to meet carrier deadlines and stay informed of any updates that are announced.
Every holiday season, shipping carriers update their deadlines so that deliveries arrive at their intended destination before specific holidays and dates. Therefore, if you’ve missed a deadline, be candid and communicate any potential delays with your customers to offer clear communication and customer service to your audience.
N0.2: Streamline Order Fulfillment and Shipping Processes
Once you have reviewed the deadlines for each shipping carrier, it’s time to prioritise your order fulfilment processes accordingly.
By organising and prioritising orders, merchants will be able to get their products to the customer faster, without missing the delivery deadlines put in place.
From there, merchants will be able to take advantage of the order list to filter shipments by the deadline. Then select multiple orders and fulfil - it’s that simple.
Another way to prioritise unfulfilled orders is to organise each purchase by a delivery method such as; local, standard, expedited, or by order date, starting from the oldest to the newest.
To make this process even faster, consider using bulk fulfilment workflows in Shopify. Then, once you’ve decided on the orders you'd like to fulfil, you can buy and create Shopify shipping labels from one view.
If your store’s country of origin resides within; the US, Canada, Australia or the UK, Shopify’s merchants will be able to print out packing slips for their store’s orders that should be fulfilled on the very same day.
If you’re ready to introduce your business to new and improved order fulfilment and shipping process, we’d recommend that you take the time to organise your store’s fulfilment area so that its; products, packing slips, packaging and shipping labels are in an assembly line - ready to be packaged and shipped.
Then, once you are ready to ship your store’s orders, it’ll be time to get your shipping provider to pick up the packages. So, don’t waste time dropping them off at the post office yourself - work with a delivery company and they'll do this for you.
N0.3: Extend Your Store’s Holiday Selling Season 🎄
Let’s face it, we all know someone who waits until the last minute to start their holiday shopping and we also all know someone who finishes their shopping weeks in advance but keeps on buying little things right up until the final days before Christmas.
Since many stores are restricted to the Christmas shipping deadlines, it can be difficult to keep selling to those last-minute shoppers and get their packages to them in time for December 25th.
As the big day edges closer, many online businesses make use of expedited shipping methods, however, this can come at rather a pricey cost. So, perhaps it’s not a one size fits all approach to order fulfilment for every company but it could be a handy approach for the stores that have funds to spare.
These alternate delivery methods were introduced as a lifeline to help merchants back in the early days of the pandemic but have since proven to be fundamental for the businesses who are looking to connect with nearby customers.
Additionally, these methods are useful for; increasing sales and providing a great customer experience. This also allows customers to support local businesses while staying safe and saving on shipping costs. So, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Both local delivery and pickup are easy to set up in Shopify. All store owners need to do is consider the logistics of how they’ll make their products available for pickup and delivery. Then, be sure to communicate the chosen strategy with your loyal customers by; adding banners to the website, placing signs in your physical storefront (if applicable) or utilising email and social media outlets to spread the word.
N0.4: Accommodate Order Fulfillment Changes
During the festive period, it is not uncommon for shoppers to make mistakes or change their minds while shopping for goods online.
Sometimes they may hit the checkout too quickly, only realising after they’ve placed the order that they have; forgotten to add a discount code, picked the wrong product size, selected the wrong colour, added duplicates to their cart or missed an item out completely.
As a merchant, it can be helpful if a business makes use of order notifications so that shoppers can obtain a record of what they have purchased after checking out their cart.
Additionally, shoppers will be able to review their order(s) and double-check if any mistakes have been made which is an especially useful feature around the holiday period.
Order notifications also keep consumers in the loop with automatic updates in regards to their order status throughout the fulfilment process. For instance; orders received, out for delivery and delivered.
If a mistake was made by the customer, online stores can create a memorable experience by amending their order for them before it is fulfilled. Ultimately, this will significantly reduce the likelihood of a return later on.
If your store is already on Shopify, be sure to utilise the order editing tool to; add or remove items, adjust quantities and apply discounts. Then, once the changes have been made, Shopify makes it easy to charge or refund the customer whilst sending an automatic notification of this update.
N0.5: Prepare for The Returns 🔄
Typically, National Returns Day is the day that buyer's return the most orders back to sellers and this day happens to fall on January 2nd.
Given the extended holiday shopping period, it has been predicted that a higher volume of returns will be accumulated across the months of; December, January and February.
The average rate of returns over Christmas is around 30%, which is a 10% increase in comparison to the rest of the year.
Returns have become a critical part of the buying process, as most shoppers will choose not to purchase a gift unless there is the option to return it. Furthermore, apparel is believed to be the industry most likely to experience a high return rate.
For stores to fully prepare for the return season, we’d recommend getting familiar with the managing returns section within Shopify’s midst.
Then, once your customer has requested to return the product as per the return policy, merchants will be able to follow a simple step-by-step workflow to process the return right from the order details page.
With returns in Shopify, merchants can keep track of; return reasons, shipping labels, order tracking, refunds and restocked items.
So, if your business has been leveraging local delivery or BOPIS, why not consider taking advantage of these delivery methods to manage your store’s returns?
Then, you will be able to avoid accumulating additional return shipping charges by locally picking up products or incentivising your customers to return the product in-store or via a curbside collection.
As 2021 has been quite the year, it has proven that the resilience of small businesses is far greater than we could have ever imagined.
Despite the ups and downs, many online stores have triumphed in the battle and we’re confident that Shopify will continue to support the businesses that are constantly looking for new ways to grow, thrive and evolve on the platform.
So, that’s it from us for today’s article. We hope that you have found our order fulfilment and Christmas shipping tips useful.
If you’re actively looking to work with a Shopify agency designer or developer to assist you with your business, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to get started!