[Guest Post] 10 ways to manage your shipments during peak business periods

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It’s common for retailers to experience a spike in activity at certain times of the year. Vacation periods, Black Friday, clearance sales, a new product launch… But these peak periods need to be managed properly so your business can take full advantage of them. If you don’t deliver your orders on time, then you won’t achieve the desired outcome of this increased activity.

How can you effectively plan your order shipping to prepare for the rush during peak periods? Discover Yaeto’s 10 tips that will help you optimize deliveries during your peak activity periods.

1/ Define the individual steps in your shipping and delivery process

Perhaps you have already given it some thought. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to write down the separate steps of your shipping process so that the overall concepts are well defined and your teams can easily understand them. This is especially important for employees who fill in as additional help and don’t know the details of your company. If you haven’t thought about this yet, it’s time to do so, or you won’t be able to handle the spikes in activity.

Furthermore, it is also advisable to ask yourself whether your shipping process is geared towards peak periods. Can it be implemented in the same way? Might it need to be revised for sales periods? Take some time to think about it. 

In any case, try to list each of the shipping steps and estimate the time needed to implement them. Include possible incidents and potential difficulties for each step. Figure out a way to respond to them so that you can reduce the time spent on each shipment. Gaining 30 seconds is anything but insignificant when this time is multiplied by 100 or 1,000!

2/ Stock up on packing and shipping supplies

Once you have an understanding of each step of your shipping process, you’ll know exactly what you need for each one.

Once you have an understanding of each step of your shipping process, you’ll know exactly what you need for each one. Stock the necessary materials so that you don’t run out of tape or boxes when sales get started, forcing you to temporarily stop making your shipments.

 

3/ Manage deadlines and anticipate delays

During the ongoing health crisis, delays and incidents are to be expected. Even if customers understand that these are uncertain times, an increase in delays could lead to disappointment and, in turn, your customers turning to the competition.

Check with the shipping companies for delays and updates. They can provide shipping deadlines so that you can fulfill orders during vacation times or clearance sales.

4/ Establish your delivery strategy for the peak periods of

Shipping costs

Determining your shipping costs is the core of your delivery strategy. You can choose from free shipping, flat rate shipping, or flat rate shipping based on shipping class. While free shipping can be instrumental in turning a prospect into a customer, it can impact your profit margin. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to perform calculations. 

Flat rate shipping with shipping class is an interesting intermediate option that allows you not to scare away some customers. It gives you the opportunity to recover your costs if the rate is properly calculated. The advantage of flat rate shipping is that the customer is informed upfront and is not surprised when making the payment.

Click & Collect

To reduce delays and join the green movement, it may make sense to go for in-store pickup. The customers save on shipping costs and you don’t have to worry about delivery times. Of course, this is only possible if your company’s location is near your customers.

International shipping

Opening up internationally is undoubtedly an excellent opportunity for a company. However, with respect to shipping, this requires you to have a good working knowledge of customs regulations and the associated tax laws. Get informed on these matters and then develop an international shipping strategy. A country-specific shipping process needs to be in place. 

delivery

5/ Regularly calculate the weight of your products

There are two benefits to using a package scale to determine the weight of your product scale. For one, the customer then knows the exact amount of the shipping costs when they make their payment. Secondly, you save time because you can avoid having to systematically make corrections to your shipping labels.

6. Don’t forget to communicate what your delivery policy is

Two questions that weigh heavily on customers when they place their orders are, “What are the shipping costs?” and “When will my package be delivered?”. To win over potential customers and boost sales, it is prudent to communicate your shipping costs and delivery methods accurately.

The channels of communication are numerous and diverse:

  • email campaign,
  • banner,
  • link to a blog post that addresses these questions,
  • menu option dedicated to the shipping policy,
  • publication in social networks,
  • FAQ page, etc.

If you opt to create a page on your e-commerce website specifically for your shipping policies, then you should include the following details:

  • shipping options,
  • delivery times,
  • shipment tracking,
  • returns and refund policy, 
  • international shipping costs (customs and delivery),
  • damaged or lost packages.

7/ Think about your return policy

Despite all your efforts to prevent returns, you will always have some. The general estimate is that returns account for 20% of shipments. During peak periods, returns can be as much as 30%. You therefore cannot afford to ignore this aspect and need to define a specific return management strategy.

Regardless of whether you pass on the cost of returns to your customers, pay for it yourself, or find an interim solution, it’s wise to communicate what your strategy is. The customer needs to know if you offer returns, if you accept exchanges, and how much it will cost.

8/ Put yourself in the customer’s shoes when opening the package

Just as the cost and delivery time are crucial factors in the purchase process, unboxing the package important for customer loyalty. A dissatisfied customer will not fail to state their opinion and express their reservations on social networks or in comments on your product pages. 

Treat your customers right by sending them samples, a thank you note, a 10% discount on a future purchase, or a code for free shipping.

9/ Provide shipment tracking

To reassure your customers that you are a good business match and to avoid extensive communication exchanges with them, you should provide shipment tracking options. This allows customers to be autonomous because they have their tracking numbers. When we approach the Christmas holidays, there is even more concern about when the package will arrive. 

10/ Anticipate customer comments and questions

Despite all your efforts to prepare and anticipate problems, your customers will inevitably have questions. Map out a quick and easy way to respond so your teams don’t waste time during peak periods. However, stay available and accessible so that your customers feel heard. 

 

When it comes to being able to manage the shipment of your orders during peak times, the three keys to success are anticipation, organization and communication. Now, the ball is in your court!

Yves Attias

CEO & Founder of the agency YATEO