Common shipping mistakes

10 Common Shipping Mistakes to Avoid During Busy Periods

23rd October 2020, 10:10am in Shipping Advice by Eva Malpass

The BBC estimate £7 billion will be spent this year over Black Friday weekend, which has been increasing annually. It is also said we Brits spend close to a whopping £26.9 billion at Christmas - and spending is not set to slow.

Be it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or even the run-up to Christmas, a surge in sales is on the cards for many businesses. With increasing sales comes a higher frequency of packages to send, so getting organised and planning ahead can really help.

For businesses, this period can seem daunting. Especially with this year, not knowing what to expect. It's easy for Brands to experience many unforeseen shipping and fulfilment problems that can cause delays and leave customers disgruntled. Still, some of them really can be avoided. We want businesses to do as best they can this holiday period and prevent these common shipping mistakes. So here's our guide to 10 things you *shouldn't* do this year!

1. Not using multiple couriers

We all know that old habits die hard, but when sticking to the same courier year in year out, you could miss out on the variety of options out there! Typically businesses stay using the same old postal service and wait in line every time they need to send a parcel. But this just won't cut it when there's Black Friday shipping and Christmas demand starting to pile up!

Using more than one courier can be simple with Interparcel. When you book with us, you just enter your parcel details and destination and quickly receive a list of comparison prices from a range of excellent couriers! The one-stop-shop! These range from drop off options to collection solutions or even locker services where you can choose to drop your parcels in a contact-free way.

We are proud to have one of the largest selections of courier services in the UK. This means we can give businesses the range and variety they need to ensure packages get to their eager customers on time. No matter the season.

2. Taking too long to send orders

I'm sure we're all familiar with ordering a product and having to wait frustratingly long to receive it. It's annoying!

The holiday season of 2020 is set to be an eCommerce affair, as online shopping has stepped in to provide a safe and easy way to buy gifts. But this means shipping quickly and efficiently is essential. In the age of Next Day delivery that we're in, there's no excuse for businesses not to offer speedy shipping services as an option for customers.

Plus, these services (with us, that is) cost only pennies more. They are a fantastic way to incentivise customers to buy and increase basket value! You can even include your inclusion of Next Day or even Same Day shipping services as a valuable marketing point. Use upgraded or free shipping to shape content for emails or even social media posts around the holidays

Don't risk losing a sale because another company can send it quicker!

3. Not running website maintenance

Staying on top of maintenence

If customers are attempting to buy from you but some product pages are broken, and your checkout process is glitching - that's a bad experience. Even some of the biggest companies have website crashes during peak periods.

So imagine, instead of hoards of people trying to enter your shop door at the same time on Black Friday, envision them all trying to enter your website at once! You need to ensure your website is running smoothly and can handle more visitors browsing simultaneously.

Using a page speed checker like Google PageSpeed Insights can be a big help to see if each of your website's pages are up to scratch. Or if you run your site through Shopify or BigCommerce they can also help to bolster your website's user-friendliness (and we integrate with them too!)

4. Failing to run shipping offers

Cited as one of the most common reasons for abandoned carts in eCommerce and creating unhappy customers is super high shipping costs at checkout.

Around holiday seasons, businesses keep in mind that customers are likely to spend much more. Buying presents or getting great deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday will increase spend. With this in mind, customers won't be keen to pay extra for Christmas shipping. Businesses offering free shipping will stand out and help to ensure these customers complete checkout and buy!

Offering free holiday shipping for a limited time or when customers spend a certain amount can drive sales and is one of the most effective marketing tools there is. Why not offer your followers a sneak peek into when your free shipping period begins to gain traction both on social media and on your website? Give it a try!

5. Not dedicating an area for holiday deals

It's a great idea to dedicate time to altering your landing page or adding a banner to reflect your participation during the upcoming sale season and festive period. How will customers know you've got a sale on or if you're offering Christmas shipping deals if your website looks exactly the same as last month?

Use the likes of WooCommerce or Squarespace. You can easily create banners, add pictures, and post videos to show what offers you have on and what customers can expect from you during these busy periods.

6. Having a muddled returns policy

Returns are just a simple reality of eCommerce selling and not having a straightforward returns policy is a common shipping mistake. It can be a huge influencer in whether new customers will buy and keep coming back. In fact, 95% of online consumers will repeatedly purchase from a seller if they provide a solid business returns policy or exchange experience.

Include the basics, like:

  • What items can be returned (and what can't)
  • How long after purchase items can be returned
  • What condition the item must be in to be returned
  • What the procedure is to return an item

Applying this information to your FAQs page would be sufficient to give customers a good idea of your return policy. And if you're having trouble with your return parcel shipping logistics, don't worry. At Interparcel, we have a 'Return Parcel' action that enables businesses to generate labels and have recipients' returns processed quickly.

7. Not marketing well enough

Don't just market the day of your sale! Start in advance and create a big buzz around what your sales will look like and what products customers can expect to see once it starts.

Try using helpful apps like Unum to schedule and plan posts for social media that will start getting customers excited about your holiday sales. This way, you can get organised and focus on fulfilling orders and sending shipments when the time comes.

Now more than ever people will be turning to online searches to find the perfect gift, so let them find your site. Not only will they hopefully purchase, but bookmark you for the future!

8. Not preparing stock

Preparing stock for a sales surge

Nobody likes selecting the product they want to buy only to find it's out of stock. Often, in busy periods, customers won't want to wait for a restock, and as is the case coming up to Xmas, time is of the essence. Preparing your stock levels for sales surges is vital to ensure you have enough to go around!

A couple of short 'out of stock' moments are inevitable for small businesses, so don't be overly stressed if this does happen. Staying on top of stock goes hand in hand with prompt holiday shipping; getting everything synced up and out on time is essential!

To remedy this, you can keep customers updated via email, a website banner, or a notice on product pages of how long your restocks usually take. Why not give customers the option to sign up to be notified when the product is back in stock? (This is a great tactic to gain contacts for later marketing purposes!).

9. Failing to check and correct delivery addresses

Getting delivery addresses wrong can be a long process of locating the parcel and having it returned and re-sent - no one needs that hassle during a busy period! Especially when it comes around to Christmas shipping, you don't want disgruntled customers leaving bad reviews.

To avoid this problem, you can automatically verify delivery addresses using our Shipping Manager. Once you connect your store, you can sync all your orders with one click. The system will automatically alert you to any issues with addresses so you can fix the issue before fulfilling the order. Problem solved!

10. Spoiling the surprise!

One of the biggest mistakes eCommerce sites make around the holidays is shipping items that are branded with their logo stamped boxes and a visible receipt. Where possible, try and swap out the branded packaging for plain brown boxes or provide the option for your customers. This way, their gift won't be spoiled until the receiver opens the actual package.

Since wrapping presents isn't everyone's favourite task, you can also provide a free gift-wrapping service. Try using subtly branded ribbon to wrap their gift for some great brand recognition around Christmas.

We're approaching an exciting retail period for small and large brands alike, so don't fall victim to common holiday shipping mistakes! You've got time to prepare, so make sure you use this blog as a to-do list, and you'll be on course to come out on top this holiday season.

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