This is the fourth part of our ‘Tis The Season To Sell series where we share tips and advice for you to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on facebook and twitter.
More and more holiday shoppers, fed up with overcrowded department stores and endless post office lines, are buying their gifts online—recent data shows that online spending is up 12% this holiday season. Great news for everyone at Shopify! However, with this increase comes one major expectation: your customers count on you to make sure gifts arrive for Christmas morning.
Handling shipping will be one of the biggest challenges you face in the next few weeks, but it can also be a great opportunity to attract new customers and boost sales. Make the most of the holidays with these shipping tips and tools:
1. Clearly Communicate Your Cutoff Dates
December 25th is your most important deadline. Make sure you know when your orders need to be shipped to make it under the Christmas tree. First, check these charts for USPS, Fed Ex and UPS cutoff dates. If you ship using USPS, the Parcel Post cutoff day is December 15th, and the first class mail cutoff is December 20th. Then, decide what’s realistic for you. It might be best to give yourself an extra day or two to get orders together. Your customers will blame you, not the carrier, if orders arrive late, so make sure you have enough time to get every gift out for the 25th.
Once you’ve determined your cutoff dates, spread the word to your customers. Announce these dates on your blog or website, and encourage customers to place their orders early. Remind them on facebook, twitter and by email.
2. Offer Expedited Shipping
If you want to help those customers that may be way behind, make sure you offer expedited shipping on your site if you don’t already. Also, keep in mind that the USPS and most national postal services have much earlier deadlines than FedEx or UPS. Consider adding one or both of those services if you haven’t already. This will extend your cutoff date by a few days.
3. Accommodating Last Minute Shoppers
No matter how loudly you trumpet your cutoff dates, some of your customers are sure to miss them. Don’t leave latecomers in the cold! Offer gift certificates and electronic products that don’t require shipping. That way, you can continue making holiday sales all the way through Christmas morning.
4. Participate in Free Shipping Day!
December 17 will be the third annual Free Shipping Day! Over 1,000 merchants have signed up to offer free delivery on items that will arrive on or before December 24. Consider throwing your hat in the ring! If you can’t offer free shipping that day, maybe try to offer a shipping discount instead.
Do you have another great idea to help customers with last minute gifts? Share it with us in the comments!