The Critical Message That Every Online Store Needs During The Holidays

Monday, November 7th, 2011
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It’s November, and retailers are in the thick of holiday preparations. During the holidays, there is so much for a retailer to do in order to maximize on this shopping bonanza! Shoppers are out and about, and they are spending money! Many will browse new websites and become new customers, making their first purchases ever at a merchant’s store. Aside from checking out your goods, as time passes, shoppers will be asking themselves when they enter a store, “If I shop here, can I get these gifts in time?” Don’t make them hunt for this information. Communicate to them immediately that you are prepared for holiday traffic and that you understand the need for timeliness by posting a table of holiday shipping timelines right on your homepage or storefront.

While it’s general practice for most stores to have their shipping policies off on the side, and somewhere less noticeable, this is much more critical information during this time of year, and shoppers will be scanning for it. The table should communicate something like this: To receive your order by X date, choose X shipping method, and place the order by X date. Consider the following when setting up your shipping table:

Calculate your normal holiday order processing time accurately. If you’re like most merchants, you’ll be doing a huge percentage of your annual sales during this short, busy season. That means more customer inquiries, more shipping, more order processing, gift wrapping, and generally more work to do! As a result, your normal order processing time may be slower than your holiday processing time, or you may want to hire extra help and speed up your holiday order processing.

Know your carriers’ deadlines and time in transit. Take a fresh look at timelines and drop off deadlines for every carrier and shipping method you currently offer. They may be offer expanded hours over the holidays.

Offer expedited methods. Not only do the latest of last minute shoppers need expedited shipping methods, but other customers will opt for expedited methods early for a variety of reasons leading up to the holidays (travel schedules, peace of mind, gatherings, etc). If you don’t usually offer expedited shipping, it’s a good idea to add it.

Promote store gift certificates as time runs out. Customers need alternative gift options when they’ve run out of time to receive physical gifts. When they look at your holiday shipping table and see that their time has expired, offer them an immediate, convenient idea for an alternative, before they think they need to shop elsewhere. Put your timely gift certificate message where it counts!

Keep this updated and accurate. The last thing you want to do is annoy, or lose a customer during this critical time! Make sure your timeline is correct !

Happy Holidays!

Coming from a medical and non-profit management background, Taryn has extensive experience in customer service and marketing. She is a Senior Account Manager for Nexternal and loves working with her clients to develop social media and marketing strategies to improve their online presence. In her spare time, she also runs a successful eCommerce jewelry and essential oils business.