It is November 1st and the holidays are almost here. This means decorations, vacation planning, and the holiday shopping season! As the mad holiday shopping rush moves online, ecommerce shippers are preparing for the uptick in online sales and getting their processes fine-tuned.
Holiday shipping is a slightly different beast than the rest of the year. Buyers expect to receive their purchases before the holidays, no matter how late they order them. Your customer service must be responsive and available 24/7. To help as a primer to this holiday shipping season, we have put together a few tips that should assist in getting ready for the shopping rush.
Make sure to verify the shipping address for completeness and correctness. If the address is incorrect or not printed CLEARLY, the package may get lost in shipping. Make sure to add your return address, as well. Not only that, if “Avenue” is entered instead of “Street” you may be charged extra by the shipping carriers for fixing the address.
If you are shipping via FedEx or UPS, make sure your customers are aware that they may be required to sign for their shipments. Placing a clear indication of this on your website will allow your buyers to change their shipping address to their place of business instead of their home, thereby allowing them to sign for the packages. Which leads us to…
The holiday shipping season not only increases your shipping business, it increases the shipping volume for the carriers, too. They work around the clock with seasonal help to get packages to their intended recipients. Often times, valuable shipments are left at doorsteps or driveways so the carriers can quickly move on to their next delivery. These shipments can grow legs and walk away, leaving your buyer unhappy and requesting a refund or reship. Requesting a signature confirmation from the shipping carriers for higher dollar shipments shows your buyers you are committed to making sure they get their packages in time for the holidays. If requesting a signature is not an option (or too costly) at the very least, ship your packages with a tracking number so delivery can be confirmed!
Use a strong, new shipping box. Leave space for cushioning inside the carton and make sure your items are not pressed against the side of the box. Use ample padding of newspaper, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or fitted InstaPak inside your packaging. Ample padding is a minimum of 2-3 inches.
Double Box Fragile or Valuable Items
If you are shipping anything breakable or valuable, adding another shipping box can make a world of difference. Even if you are using bubble wrap or packing peanuts, an additional box can protect you in 2 ways. (1) The additional box and accompanying packing material adds strength and padding to the package. (2) If someone along the mail stream decides to poke a hole in the box to see what falls out, they only poke through the outside box. Also, place another shipping label on the inner box in the case that it gets separated from the outer box. This can happen when it gets opened by customs or the outer box gets damaged in transit.
Weather-Proof Your Shipments
Winter brings cold, rain, sleet, and snow to many parts of the world. If your shipments can be damaged by the elements, make sure to wrap them in a plastic or weatherproof bag. This way, they will have some protection if they are left out in the elements.
Use Proper Shipping Tape
Scotch tape is not meant to secure a box for shipping. Use pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced tape, or paper tape.
Use a Streamlined Shipping Software
We hope you already have some type of automated shipping setup at your disposal, but if you do not, now is the time. Printing out individual shipping labels one-by-one using a free solution is cost effective, but it may be time consuming. Extra time = Extra money. A simple Google search for “Shipping Software” will land you a few great options. Take a look at ShipWorks and TrueShip for a reasonably prices solution. Many shipping software solutions will help with tip #1 as they verify and validate addresses for you.
Insure Your Shipments
Even if you take all the steps to properly pack and ship your holiday shipments, things tend to happen with the huge increase in shipping volume. If your packages are lost or damaged while in transit, make sure you have coverage for these shipments. The carriers do offer different forms or high-cost coverage, but a better option is to insure your shipments with Shipsurance. We offer full coverage at a fraction of the cost, and our coverage is integrated with the different shipping software solutions. Claims are also handled quickly and fairly, which will make you holiday buyers happy.
Hopefully our holiday shipping tips were either a great refresher or you learned something from it. Let 2010 be a great holiday shipping year!