We all love the holidays, or do we? As a shipping technology
partner, we’ve seen retailers of all sizes experience all sorts
of pain when it comes to ‘joyful’ seasons such as the year-end
holidays. In fact, research for the U.S. 2017 State
of Shipping in Commerce
report shows that 51% of
retailers struggled with shipping during this traditionally
busy period with small (55%) and enterprise (63%) retailers
feeling the most heat. Let’s uncover the mystery behind why
shipping is challenging especially over the holidays and what
retailers can do to tackle it:

Increasing Conversion

Up to 54% of shoppers cited shipping-related pains as the
reason they abandoned their carts, so reducing shipping
friction can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
More than ever over the holidays, competing offers based on
speed, price, and convenience of shipping services will
determine if you’ve got the sale. How can you use shipping to
increase your conversion rate?

Be Transparent With Shipping Costs

A majority (69%) of shoppers expect all duties and taxes to be
calculated in the cart, and 42% won’t shop with a retailer
again if they have to pay taxes and duties to release
international purchases from customs, so make sure you’re set
up to display all shipping cost at checkout to prevent
unpleasant surprises at a time when consumer spending is at an
all-time high.

Tap Into Free Shipping to Sell More

More so than shoppers in Australia or United Kingdom, 65% of
American shoppers would increase their basket size for free
hyper-local shipping (1-3-hour). Consider introducing ‘free
shipping with a minimum spend’ to increase your average order
value (AOV) or boost your holiday conversion rate by offering
new customers with one-time free shipping, just as 38% and 14%
of retailers respectively, did last year.

Offer Convenient Shipping Options

Online shopping is superior compared to physical stores due to
its ‘endless aisles’ and 24/7 access, but a growing consumer
phenomenon called webrooming (to research online and
buy in a physical store) is proving that online doesn’t always
win. More than half (63%) of shoppers this year admitted to
webrooming: 68% Gen Z, 71% Millennials, and 72% Gen X. Take
advantage of this by providing better shipping options that
appeal to the unique needs of each shopper: Click-and-collect
for penny pinchers, same-day or overnight delivery for
last-minute gift shoppers, and weekend, guaranteed time slots
or after-hours delivery for very busy bees.

Optimizing Post-purchase

We know that customer experience doesn’t stop once you’ve made
a sale, but providing great service when you’re snowed under at
peak periods can be challenging. With half of shoppers stating
that they’re unlikely to shop with a retailer again when
they’ve had a negative shipping experience, missing out on
repeat business is a costly oversight when you’re too busy to
pay attention to the details. How can retailers optimize the
post-purchase stage?

Ship as Quickly as Possible

Ensuring orders are fulfilled at optimal speed will ensure that
they’re getting out the door to your customers quicker. This
also helps with managing carrier costs. For instance, if you
fulfill an order within an hour for a 2-day delivery window
you’ll pay a standard fee, but if you fulfill it in 12 hours
you’ll end up paying for express delivery, which is costlier.
Our data indicates that 16% of pure play retailers can fulfill
orders in under 30 minutes, while only 7% of enterprise
retailers can do the same.

Communicate With Your Customers

Tracking information is very important to online shoppers as
nearly all of shoppers surveyed  (96%) expect delivery
date estimates at checkout and 78% expect email updates, yet
only 51% and 31% of retailers respectively offer these
services. Worryingly, a tenth of mid-market retailers this year
admitted that their customers can’t access any tracking
services. With many retailers imposing delivery deadlines over
the holidays to manage expectations, limiting your customers’
view of where and when their orders will be delivered can be
stressful for everyone.

Build Loyalty With Returns

It’s short-sighted to think that returns should be discouraged
as it will encourage your customers to shop at a fairer
competitor, so saturating this stage of the buying process with
care can extend your customer lifetime value (CLV). Is it easy
for your customers to return or exchange gifts and purchases
that they’ve made over the holidays? 50% of retailers admitted
that their returns process was difficult for consumers, while
49% said it was disjointed. With 64% of shoppers perceiving
that department stores have a better returns policy compared to
brand name stores, you’d be losing out on a chunk of holiday
revenue if you’re the latter type.

While online shopping is not necessarily an exact science
(yet!), retailers who seek maximum return on investment at peak
trading periods need to take advantage of shipping as a
profit-making tool. With a third of retailers intending to use
‘free shipping’ and offer alternative options such as after
hours and weekend delivery by the next year-end holidays,
making sure these tactics are supported by the right
infrastructure can be the difference between profit and loss.
May the holidays bring you the joy of record-breaking revenue!

To find out more about how shoppers and retailers are
challenged by shipping friction, and what you can do about it,
Temando’s 2017 State of Shipping in Commerce report

About Temando
(“I send you” in Spanish) is a global technology company that
exists to connect the world’s logistical resources into a
single intelligent software platform and to make commerce
universally accessible to everybody. The company’s solutions
give merchants the power to move goods from anywhere they are
to wherever they need to be, no matter how they need to get
there. Temando is a Neopost Company headquartered in Australia,
with offices in Brisbane, Sydney, San Francisco, London, Paris,
and Manila. For more information, please visit temando.com.