The holidays are a busy time and can be especially hectic, especially for retail and parcel shippers. Nowadays shoppers love the convenience of making online purchases that get delivered directly to their doorstep in time for Hanukkah or Christmas day. This increases pressure for parcel carriers to deliver high volumes of freight at a fast rate—and at the busiest time of year.
Here are a few tips to help you master shipping and keep customers happy amidst the holiday chaos.
1. Plan and Prepare
While it’s difficult to know what your exact holiday sales will be, you can make a good estimate based on data from previous years and forecast based on Y-T-D sales. If you see a pattern of growth, hire extra help for the shipping department. There are always students on winter break looking to make extra cash. Create a protocol and print it out so that it’s easy to get temporary help up to speed.
2. Stock Up
A common problem among shippers is inadequate stock. When a retailer runs out of product, they may have to wait for the arrival of new stock and then pay a higher cost to ship it. This cuts into the bottom line or may alienate the customer and prompt them to shop elsewhere. Again, try to anticipate holiday demand as best you can, so that you can have enough inventory on hand.
3. Create Promos That Drive Early Sales
Last minute orders increase stress for everyone involved. While you cannot control the of your customers, you can incentivize them to order early with good promos. This gives you more time for delivery which means less internal rushing and more on-time arrivals. The trend for Black Friday sales has evolved significantly over the last two years, with companies starting sales campaigns as much as two weeks in advance of the actual day after Thanksgiving. Follow suit with your Christmas sales by offering promotions earlier rather than the days directly before the holiday. While last minute sales are appealing, they increase pressure on the shipping process and are risky—you may ultimate alienate customers if their shipments don’t arrive on time.
4. Pack Extra Safely
Just like you’re busier this time of the year, so are freight carriers. They are moving more cargo than normal, which leads to more chances for damage to occur. Extra packaging can help prevent the damage that can lead to holiday disappointment. Just using a box with a crease in it can diminish its strength by more than half! Recycled boxes can be weaker and deteriorate faster. Use new boxes and surround items by at least two inches of cushioning. Use high-quality packing materials, such as foam packing peanuts and bubble cushion. Only use packing tape, not scotch or masking. For extra security include an additional address label on the inside of the package in case the external label incurs damage or becomes unreadable.
5. Manage Expectations
One of the best things you can to do to keep customers happy during the holidays is to manage expectations. Be clear on exactly how fast you can fulfill an order and provide specific delivery deadlines. Don’t delay during this time of year—ship products out the same day they’re ordered to avoid any surprises. Use our tracking tool to follow your packages’ journeys in real-time and receive shipment notifications and delivery updates that you can share with your customers.
With a game plan and extra precautions, you can help the holiday season run smoothly for your business and customers. Click here to learn more about our freight and cargo transportation services.