Three shipping tips you need to ace the 2019 holiday season

3 minute read

Santa Claus may do his job in a single night, but he works with his team of elves year round to make it happen.

He – and every other holiday-season fulfillment veteran – knows that the earlier you prepare for the holidays, the better.

Whether your business is big or small, holiday season success is a matter of solving problems before they become problems. Once the holiday season hits, there’s no time available – and even less energy – to solve issues that emerge during the rush.

That’s why ShipStation is here to help, in partnership with Canada Post, with three tips you can act on before Christmas to help ensure a successful holiday season.

  1. Have return policies ready now

    While only one-quarter of the top 200 e-commerce merchants in Canada offer free returns, Canada Post research shows 84 per cent of consumers want free shipping.

    It’s not always practical – or even plausible – for a business to offer free returns, but this statistic emphasizes an important point for holiday season success. Returns are a critical factor for consumers when buying.

    Returns are a critical factor for consumers when buying.

    The months before the holiday season are the most important time of year to take a look at your returns policy, and optimize it to the needs of your customers and organization.

    Many Canadians rely less heavily on Boxing Day sales and have trended more towards Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is more in line with American customers. Because of this, you’ll want to catch as many holiday shoppers as possible.

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    Some retailers change their returns policy during the holiday season to attract more customers. While many websites have a standard 30-day return policy, it is adjusted slightly for the holidays. Instead, they allow all orders placed from November till the end of the season to be returned by mid-January.

    Remember that while the recipient may not open a present until Christmas morning, it may have been bought months in advance.

    Ready to ace the holidays? Download our Holiday Success Guide now and find more holiday content to help make this your best season yet.

  2. Verify recipient addresses

    In the rush of holiday shipping, you want to make sure the address you’re shipping to is correct. Customers are less forgiving if someone doesn’t receive their gift in time than they are about standard delays.

    Holiday purchases are often shipped to the homes of friends and relatives – increasing the likelihood of incorrect shipping addresses. Because of this, it pays to have a system in place to verify that the address the customer provides is correct.

    Ways to check this:

    • ShipStation and other shipping software offer address validation and correction as part of their feature set. Quickly and effectively check to see if recipient addresses are valid or have been updated to reflect what is listed.
    • Search engines like Google offer more up-to-the-minute updates on addresses. If your shipping software or carrier is not able to validate an address, many search engines update their listings in real time.
  3. Include promotional materials and discounts

    Gifts can be hard to get right. Sometimes we give gifts that mean more to us than they do the recipient. Sometimes, we give a gift that is greatly appreciated, but it doesn’t engage with the recipient enough to produce repeat purchases.

    In either circumstance, include a packing slip or some other form of promotional material to highlight your return policy or featured items that you sell. As mentioned above, Boxing Day is becoming less popular than it has been in years past – but it’s still a great opportunity to convert returns to exchanges, and generate revenue with strategic up-sells.

    A good way to position this is to highlight other items you sell that accommodate the purchased item. Automate which packing slip template to use based on items ordered—showcasing supplementary items. This is a good way to increase sales in a time of year that is often punctuated by its returns and gift card purchases.

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James Messer
James is a copywriter at ShipStation, a leading provider of shipping software for e-commerce fulfillment.Read more by James Messer