Holiday shipping tips

The busiest time of the ecommerce year is here. You’ve crunched the data and assessed the trends. Your store has been optimized, your product selection has grown and you are ready to welcome a surge of new and repeat holiday shoppers.

Now you need to ensure that the shipping process is as smooth as possible for your customers. While you can leave the production and delivery of your products to us, how you communicate around shipping can both be a selling point and a helpful tool for ensuring repeat customers. Here are some of our best tips to get the holiday shipping season started right:

Incentivize your customers with the right message

While your store may be one of the best out there (and we truly believe it is), don’t forget that your store does not exist in isolation. Your customers are going to be shopping around, and often at the last minute. They are inevitably going to be weighing-up the options from different ecommerce stores.

This is where a simple incentive can swing things in your favor.

In another blog post, we suggested elevating the USPs that Gelato brings to your customers: local production which helps reduce the risks of supply chain chaos and is better for the planet. You may also want to consider offering free delivery to help trigger holiday sales. With Gelato, you can easily set your shipping rates and margins, or activate live shipping rates that enable your customers more freedom and choices when it comes to shipping methods.

Communicate last order dates and encourage early orders

Something that is fundamental to success during holiday sales is the clear communication of when your customers should place their orders.

By helping your customers prepare their shopping and ensure successful delivery of their orders ahead of the Holidays, we recommend clearly communicating and updating the last date by which an order can be placed, which can help entice both sales, profits, and goodwill.

Here’s a checklist that we hope will help preempt and solve any issues around last order dates, and leave you to focus on your customers, safe in the knowledge that they know exactly what they should do.

1. Encourage your customers to place their orders early

This year the world is facing an increased level of uncertainty when it comes to shipping times. The most effective way for your customers to ensure they get their orders on time is to place them as early as possible. Not only will it help them get their shopping done early (goodbye crunch time stress and hello holiday bliss!) but it will greatly reduce the worries of packages not arriving to their loved ones on time.

Encourage your customers by informing them early on, inspire them with your beautiful products and gift ideas, and entice early shopping through your social media channels, your website, and customer emails.

2. Are your last order dates easy to understand?

The ecommerce convention is to present a sentence on a product page which leaves no room for doubt in your customer’s minds e.g. ‘To receive this by [date]; place orders by [date]’. However, being crystal clear can also be challenging in the world of global shipping and supply chains. While producing locally with Gelato, and as close to your end-customer as possible, helps speed up your deliveries, we strongly recommend you also make it clear to your customers that last order dates will always be subject to change and that delays may occur during the hectic holiday shipping season.

3. Be transparent and open in your communication

If you are experiencing changes to your last order dates or delays - tell them. Being open and proactive in your communication with customers can help build trust and a relationship that lasts for many holiday seasons to come.

4. How to set your last order dates

At Gelato we will provide last order dates for all products and the destinations we deliver to, which will help give you an idea of when your customers will need to place their orders by. However, keep in mind that the last order dates may change, and to check back often for updates. When you decide which dates to pass on in your communication to your customers, you want to strike the right balance between being competitive (and setting those last order dates as late as possible) - and at the same time giving your customers peace of mind that their products will arrive on time.

5. Is your shipping information visible?

Communicating last order dates by social or email channels is important, but these will not be seen by all your customers, and besides, these are considered mediums for updates rather than a permanent point of reference.

As such, be sure that information about holiday shipping and last order dates is permanently - and prominently - placed on your homepage, but also on the individual product pages. This removes any room for doubt.

6. Are you emphasizing the importance of last order dates?

You don’t want to panic customers, but last order dates, if effectively communicated, can serve as a sales tool. FOMO and a desire to avoid missing a shipping deadline can focus the mind of a purchaser.

Consider having the last order dates as standing out from the rest of the site. Make them clear and distinct. If you really want to gently increase the pressure, display them in the form of a countdown, to remind customers of the need to get the order placed in good time.

As the dates for last orders nears, use this as a legitimate theme for email reminders, social posts, and other forms of advertising - and make sure to communicate any changes. By managing your customers’ expectations you can increase customer satisfaction.

Holiday preparations

You can find last order dates and more information for Holiday preparations here.