Now that December is here, it's time to start thinking about holiday shipping policies on your website. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than to order a gift and not have it arrive in time to give it.
One time I was shopping online for a specific item. I found it on multiple sites, but all of them offered shipping options that wouldn't get it to me in time for Christmas. But then I found a site that had express 2-day shipping.
After I purchased it and it didn't come for days, I looked into it further. It turns out that website had a 3-day delay before they would even ship the item! This was not clearly stated.
So to avoid frustration to your customers, take some extra holiday precautions.
- Put a big headline on all your shopping pages that says "Order by [date] to insure Christmas delivery." This will guarantee that you won't have unhappy customers who are waiting for the mail to arrive the day before they are supposed to leave for a holiday trip. If you are having your orders drop shipped, be sure to check with the distributor about this date since it may take them longer to fulfill your order than usual.
- Turn off calculated shipping and instead have a fixed shipping rate Last December, I had a customer who emailed me because my site hung when he tried to view shipping charges to his zip code. It turns out there were so many people shopping online that the USPS servers that were in charge of calculating the shipping were getting overloaded. The Monday after Thanksgiving, known as Cyber Monday, there were 4 million online shoppers a minute. That's right, per minute! According to a recent survey, 55% plan to do holiday shopping online in 2017, which is higher than last year. With such a huge volume of online shoppers, it's very likely the same problem will happen this year with calculated shipping. So avoid missing a sale by setting your shipping to be a fixed amount, even if it is only for the U.S. You may lose a little bit of money on shipping some orders, but you'll get more orders than you would if your site hangs. You can turn it back to calculated shipping in January.
- Use FedEx or USPS instead of the UPS. My experience with UPS for shipping, especially priority mail, is that they are great for 11 months of the year. But in December they so overloaded with the delivery of holiday packages that they get incredibly backlogged. Having a priority mail package take 2 weeks to reach its destination around Christmas is not unheard of. I have found the courier services like FedEx and USPS to be a lot more reliable. Last year when a customer asked if she would get my product in time, I went to the USPS website and put in her zip code. It calculated that she would. And even though the attendant at the USPS facility said it wouldn't, it did in fact arrive when the website said it would.
By taking these small precautions, you'll get the most holiday orders and keep your customers jolly.
Posted on November 29, 2018