Happy Holidays, Now Let’s Ship Some Orders
The Q4 holidays make up the busiest shopping season of the year, every year. In 2022, US holiday retail sales are expected to reach $1.3 trillion, a 3.3% increase over 2021. Holiday ecommerce is expected to grow 15.5% to $236 billion. Is your ecommerce store ready for the holiday sales surge? Customer expectations are at an all time high, so this holiday season can be your chance to earn customer loyalty. From your website performance, to order delivery and returns management, every aspect of your e-commerce operations is an opportunity to impress and delight your customers. Today, we share the tips and recommendations based on our experience helping our clients navigate many holiday seasons.
Preparing Your Website For Holiday Traffic
Black Friday through Christmas Eve is the time of year when the majority of e-commerce brands experience a surge in orders. Technology, home goods, beauty supplies and clothing items are among the top holiday shopping categories, particularly on Black Friday. We have all heard horror stories of websites crashing due to high demand. If an e-commerce site doesn’t run smoothly, it can spell trouble for its sales and reputation.
In advance of the holiday season, check your website’s speed and performance on desktop as well as mobile devices. You can leverage Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to receive actionable advice on how to increase your site speed. These may include recommendations for optimizing images, clearing the browser cache or enabling compression. After you have made the recommended changes, re-test your site with the same tool to see how your PageSpeed score has changed.
Increased holiday traffic also means that there will be a lot more customer questions and inquiries to handle. You may receive questions about everything from specific products to refunds and exchanges, shipping timeframes and beyond. One of the best ways to cut down on the number of emails, calls, and chats from customers is to proactively update your FAQ page so your customers can easily find the information they need, without needing to contact your Support team.
Plan Ahead With Inventory Forecasting
You have worked hard to generate demand during the holiday shopping season, but do you have enough inventory? Plan ahead to avoid the dreaded “out of stock” message for a favorite item on your site. By studying historical data, among other factors, you can predict the most popular SKUs for the holiday season, and stock up accordingly. Keep in mind that the unexpected can occur at any time during the holiday season, despite using the best inventory planning tools. As a result, you need to continuously review your stock counts, inventory turnover, and daily order performance. When you work with an expert 3PL such as ShipWizard, you will have access to your inventory, transaction, and a summary of all activities in real time. 3PLs have the experience, technology and infrastructure to manage large amounts of stock and orders.
Be Prepared for a High Volume of Holiday Returns
With an increased number of orders comes an increased volume of returns. Returns are an unavoidable part of the holiday season, with over a third of Americans reporting that they will return at least one gift that they received. If the thought of returns management stresses you out, remember that outsourcing to a 3PL service can help you with the logistics of handling returns with tools like smart labels.
Smart returns management starts with smart shipping and smart labels. From the moment your customer prints a Smart Label from your site on their home printer or activates the one you included with their order, it goes to work. As the carrier of your choice scans the barcode, your system is automatically notified that a return is incoming. Not only do you get an early alert, but the package is linked to the order before it ever arrives at your reverse logistics facility.
Anticipating incoming returns makes credits and refunds appear faster for customers and your merchandise to be available for resale sooner. At ShipWizard, the sorting process ensures that you get every bit of remaining value out of every single return, every time.
Give Your Business The Gift Of A Reliable Fulfillment Partner
A successful holiday season relies heavily on an order fulfillment process that is fast, reliable, and flexible. This holiday season, you may realize it’s time to outsource your order fulfillment to an experienced 3PL service, to ensure a positive customer experience, and free up some of your time. Select a 3PL that provides data analytics, has a good track record, and is responsive. Don’t wait till the last minute to sign up with your 3PL! Get started as soon as possible, confirm that their API integrates with your store, share your forecasting, and sign off on their commitments of speed and timelines. See if ShipWizard is right for you, or request a quote today!