Warehousing & Fulfillment

Holiday Shipping Success: Do’s and Don’ts for Peak Season

Warehousing & Fulfillment
September 15, 2023
6 min read

From meeting consumer expectations for shipping optionality to demand forecasting, this guide contains everything you need to know about holiday shipping in 2023.

The holiday season is a major revenue driver for most merchants, and one of the keys to ensuring customer satisfaction is providing a top-notch holiday shipping experience. 

The holidays are an especially important time for ecommerce merchants to acquire new customers. According to Facebook, of the consumers who discovered a new brand online last season, 45% were shopping for a gift for someone. Each first-time shopper should be treated as an opportunity to convert a lifelong shopper and brand advocate.

Ahead we’ll look at how this year’s holiday shopping season will be different and provide some dos and don’ts for merchants to create a memorable experience with their brand.

Holiday Shipping Trends

The Amazon Effect had retailers racing to find an affordable way to offer 1- to 2-day shipping to all of their customers. However, recent consumer survey data shows that consumers expect more than just fast shipping. They expect customized shipping options that meet their lifestyle, including:

  • Free Shipping (70%)
  • Real-time tracking (43%)
  • Ability to choose their delivery date (31%)
  • In-store pickup (27%)

DO: Offer multiple delivery options and advertise products that are available to for same-day, next-day, or in-store pickup based on the shopper’s browsing location.

DON’T: View consumers as a monolith. While delivery speed is still an important consideration for many consumers (In fact, 72% will opt for premium services like same-day delivery under certain circumstances), tbhekir new hybrid lifestyles demand more options.

Sustainable Holiday Shipping

The ecommerce boom led to more final mile delivery vehicles on the road, which ultimately led to more carbon emissions. With growing consumer preference for ecommerce, the holiday shopping season has the potential to make a significant environmental impact.

What’s more, consumers are aware of the effects of their online shopping habits and are looking for ways to mitigate the impact. In fact, 88% of shoppers report that sustainability is important to their purchasing decisions.

DO: Distribute inventory closer to end customers to lower time in transit (TNT) and decrease carbon emissions per shipment. Lowering TNT also improves speed to delivery, allowing you to meet consumer expectations for speed and sustainability.

DON’T: Rely on air shipments to meet consumer expectations for 1- to 2-day delivery. Air shipments emit six times more carbon than ground shipments on average.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

As the holidays approach, shipping carriers can be expected to announce their holiday shipping deadlines. Work closely with your fulfillment provider to find out the last possible date a customer can place an order and receive their product before the holidays. This will depend on the final day for carrier pickups and your fulfillment partner’s Service Level Agreements (SLAs) around order fulfillment times.

DO: Distribute inventory to lower time in transit (TNT) and allow for later cutoff dates to maximize sales potential. Advertise your order cutoff dates to create a sense of urgency and encourage shoppers to purchase early. You should also partner with a fulfillment provider that offers reliable last mile carrier tracking to give shoppers peace of mind.

DON’T: Don’t expect shoppers to know the major carriers’ holiday shipping deadlines. As the industry expert, they’re relying on your business to keep deadlines and cutoff dates top of mind for them.

Holiday Demand Forecasting

Recent merchant survey data revealed that 79% of merchants plan to revisit their holiday demand forecast more frequently this year (54% will revisit it monthly or even weekly). More regular demand forecasting will enable them to ride the wave of consumer demand this year — adjusting their marketing and promotional schedules to meet sales velocity targets without sacrificing margins.

Forecasting demand and communicating with your fulfillment partner should include discussions around: your inbound shipment schedule, your forecasted average daily volume (ADV), your holiday promotion schedule, items that will be kitted or are frequently bought together. These conversations will help your fulfillment partner:

  • Staff the appropriate amount of labor to make sure your inventory is on the shelf and ready to sell quickly.
  • Prepare the appropriate space for your inbound shipments to make picking and packing as efficient as possible.
  • Order and prepare the appropriate amount of shipping supplies, such as boxes, tape, and void filler.
  • Determine if a special project needs to be set up for a large volume promotion.

Ultimately, finding an outsourced fulfillment solution that feels like a true partnership can make or break your holiday shipping season. A fulfillment partner that is committed to your company’s success will partner with you to forecast demand, find solutions to supply chain disruptions, and meet holiday shipping deadlines to turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers.

Looking for a holiday fulfillment tips and tricks? Check out our Peak Holiday Fulfillment Hub to find all of our holiday tips in one place.

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