The countdown is on to the holiday season, with major online shopping events including Cyber Monday and Black Friday just around the corner.
In fact, Aussie shoppers are forecast to spend $63.9 billion in the pre-Christmas sales period (November 14 – December 24), which is up 3 percent on last year.
As peak season fast approaches, now is the time for merchants to start optimising all elements of the customer journey to delight customers and increase sales.
- Automate your shipping
A new report by ShipStation, Holiday Shopping Trends Report: Winning Customers Despite Uncertainty, examines how retail and ecommerce merchants can adapt and continue winning customers during peak season despite challenging trading conditions.
The research, conducted with independent economics research consultancy Retail Economics, contains insights from more than 8,000 consumers across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, UK and USA, and over 800 ecommerce merchants.
According to the report, delivery cost and speed remain critical conversion factors for online shoppers.
In fact, 32 percent of Australian consumers, and an average of 30 percent of global consumers, consider cost of delivery to be the most important factor when purchasing from a merchant, followed by speed of delivery (20.8 percent), convenience (18.7 percent), visibility (14.5 percent), and carbon footprint of the delivery (10.4 percent).
One way to get orders fulfilled and out the door faster during the holiday season is to implement shipping automation rules.
Automation rules allow the highest degree of customisation and let you automate complex shipping requirements. Almost any shipping-related task for your online store can be automated.
With delivery speed also top of mind for consumers’ this holiday season, ShipStation’s scan to verify feature enables you to increase order processing speed and reduce shipping errors.
Scan to verify allows retailers to scan a UPC or SKU barcode to confirm the picker has the right items to pack, minimising packing errors and providing the ability to apply precise package weight for each shipment.
- Be transparent throughout the entire shopper journey
Transparent and accurate tracking is critical to creating a positive online shopping experience for consumers.
A recent report commissioned by ShipStation revealed more than one-third (37 percent) of shoppers would simply stop shopping with a retailer after a bad experience.
The most common reasons for a bad post-purchase experience were late delivery (57 percent), missing delivery (38 percent), unable to track delivery (32 percent), needing to pay for returns (23 percent) and couldn’t understand tracking (12 percent).
As consumers wait for their online order to arrive, being able to follow its progress in real-time leaves them feeling informed and in control, with almost all shoppers (94 percent) saying the ability to track their order is ‘important’, of which 54 percent say it’s ‘very important’.
Conversely, not being able to track a parcel is a major reason for shoppers having a negative experience. Close to one-third (32 percent) say poor tracking played a role in their bad experience. The only factors that scored higher were late and missing parcels.
ShipStation’s branded tracking feature keeps the shopping experience consistent, brand specific, and personalised throughout the entire shipping journey. Instead of receiving generic shipping updates from the carrier, customers will receive tracking information that looks as though it is coming directly from you.
- Offer multiple-carrier shipping options
Another make-or-break factor throughout the post-purchase experience is delivery promise.
According to ShipStation research, almost nine in 10 (88 percent) of shoppers say that a range of delivery options is ‘important’, of which 39 percent say it is ‘very important’.
The Holiday Shopping Trends Report indicates that partnerships with agile third-party suppliers and returns management companies will become important for many businesses to enhance online capabilities this peak season.
ShipStation gives merchants the ability to diversify their carrier portfolio with an expansive local and global courier network and offers discounted postage rates up to 58% off retail rates with Australia’s top couriers including Sendle, CouriersPlease, and Aramex, enabling you to run your operations smoothly by aggregating your orders from across multiple platforms and carriers.
Additionally, ShipStation’s multiple-carrier shipping options allows you to switch between carriers as and when needed, to get around potential delivery bottlenecks during peak season not only nationally, but also globally.
- Create tailored experiences and reward loyalty
Successful brands are using increasingly complex data-driven methods to segment their customers. In doing so, serving tailored messages at the right time, in the right channels, and on the right devices, offers sophisticated ways of reaching new and existing customers.
Using data science (AI, machine learning, and analytics) to mine behavioural insights for personalised marketing strategies leading up to the holidays could be the determining factor between success or failure.
A shipping solution like ShipStation will align your shipping process with customised branding.
From incorporating your logo, adding social media links, customising emails, CRM messaging, and more, ShipStation gives sellers an opportunity to create a more personalised and memorable delivery experience for their customers, at no additional cost.
- Rethink your supply chain strategies
According to the Holiday Shopping Trends Report, many businesses started planning for the holiday season ahead of last year, reflecting greater uncertainty and supply chain issues.
Improved strategies are likely to involve using shorter, more flexible supply chains, better equipped to deal with supply shocks; and importantly, able to address changes.
In order to navigate supply chain disruptions more effectively, businesses should explore simplifying their supply chains, making them shorter and reducing overreliance on single countries.
The Holiday Shopping Trends Report advises merchants to also rethink their inventory and establish alternative supply sources to enable fast-tracked volume delivery capability. Adopt better, more agile inventory policies to maintain ‘just-in-time’ strategies with established mitigation.
To get your copy of ShipStation’s Holiday Shopping Trends Report: Winning Customers Despite Uncertainty click here.