How to Handle Shopify Shipping During the Holidays
The holidays are stressful for quite a few reasons, but Shopify store owners face one of the biggest stressors of all: shipping. A bulk of most business’ sales occur between now and January. Black Friday/Cyber Monday, while huge, are just the beginning of a shopping season that goes on for months. It’s a strain on companies to accomplish shipping quickly throughout these months due to the sheer volume of orders, not to mention the slower, COVID-affected shipping time frames of 2020.
Shipping may have taken a hit, but shopping sure hasn’t — and we can count on customers to spend equally as much this year as they have in years’ past. How to handle an already-stressful shipping sitch, especially this year? Let’s find out.
What E-Commerce Storefronts Should Know About Their Shipping
The best way to handle your e-commerce company’s shipping is to understand it. Between inventory management systems, drop-shipping, and automated order processing, vital shipping steps can become integrated to a point of nonobservance. While convenient, this means some Shopify store owners may not have the full picture when it comes to getting products from point A to point B. By analysing the points below and ensuring a complete understanding of the shipping process (whether one you actively monitor or not), you’ll find that holiday orders are far more organised.
Note Shipping Deadlines From Major Carriers
First and foremost, the holiday season requires hitting deadlines for shipping from major mail carriers. Each year, carriers release a set of dates by which packages should be postmarked in order to be received in a timely manner — a.k.a before certain key holidays. For Shopify store owners in the UK, this typically means having a good idea of when Royal Mail, myHermes, Parcelforce, DPD UK, UPS, and FedEx have last posting dates. For US residents, it usually refers to the shipping deadlines for UPS, FedEx, and USPS.
Understand Your Own Supply Chain
The next step for creating a holiday shipping plan with confidence is to map out your company’s supply chain steps. This includes everything concerning shipping and delivery. If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll want to ensure your shipping strategy plan is still relevant, and if you’re new, that you have one. In doing so, look for aspects where you can add backup plans, always accounting for delays or shipping mishaps. This can be especially vital for e-commerce companies who package and ship orders themselves.
Fill in Weak Spots
It’s generally believed that there are ten parts to supply chains, and focusing on which ones are weak in your fulfillment process will make you stronger as a company. The facets most impacted by holiday shipping include planning for demand, inventory management, transport, and returns management. You can fill in weak spots for each category depending on your specific Shopify model. For instance, planning for demand can include placing orders ahead of time when possible. This may mean placing business-related orders, but also fulfilling any placed orders you currently have for your shop ASAP. Similarly, if your inventory system is messy, turn to inventory system applications or plug-ins for easy management before the holidays.
Consider International Customers
Shipping is already expected to take a little longer this year, and international orders even more so. While you can’t prevent delays, you can make an effort to always stay ahead on international orders. Doing so involves not only informing yourself, but your customers as well. Using pop-ups or informational pages, make it clear that customs fees are not yours to pay, and provide awareness on how packages will move through international lines.
Stock Up on Shipping Supplies
Whether packing items yourself or just being responsible for labels, it’s essential to stock up on shipping supplies for the holiday season.
You certainly don’t want to be half-way through a day’s fulfillment only to realise you’re out of boxes, labels, ink, or protective materials such as bubble wrap. In moments like these, having an organised assembly line in place — that is mindful of quality assurance, double-checked labels, packaging protection, and even extras like coupons or seasonal mini-gifts — will enable proper preparation.
The benefit of stocking up is that shipping supplies will be used eventually, even if it’s not during the holiday season. Therefore, there’s no harm in doing a bulk order before business booms! Additionally, if you’ve been considering investing in a big-ticket device relevant to your shipping, such as a thermal printer, now is the time to do it.
Have a Return Plan
The part of the shipping process arguably most important has nothing to do with the shipping you do yourself, but instead that of your customers. It feels like the holiday season ends with the sale, but in truth, a fair amount of product will likely be returned. Fret not; returns don’t necessarily speak to your products, but more so the nature of the holiday season. In order to handle the inevitable, have a plan in place for returns.
Don’t Sweat the Shipping (and More) With Full Fat Commerce
The holiday season is meant to be cheery, so don’t let shipping hold you back! When it comes to streamlining shipping and similar e-commerce processes, Full Fat Commerce has it down to a science. As an accomplished Shopify agency, our diverse group is composed of experts in several commerce fields, meaning you have access to an entire team of dedicated specialists capable of improving your Shopify storefront — no matter what it needs. Get in touch today to see how we can revamp your site, build out brand logistics, and help you grow.