Cheat the Clock: Start Shipping Holiday Sales TODAY

by Sarah Smith | 2-Day-Shipping, Customer Satisfaction, eCommerce

We’ve said it before, but we’d like to remind you…

…the 2014 calendar will present eTailers with another short holiday season, with a mere 26 shopping days from Black Friday through Christmas Eve. Hopefully by now you’ve set your sales goals, stocked holiday inventory, updated both desktop and mobile websites, hired (or are hiring) new staff, optimized your warehouse facilities and fulfillment procedures and prepared for the coming holiday season. As the alarmingly short holiday season draws closer you may be beginning to feel a bit anxious as you wait for those holiday sales to start rolling in.

What are you waiting for?

NOW is the time to give your e-Commerce holiday a much-needed early boost by cheating the clock. If you begin your holiday promotions today, you can extend the shopping season by starting earlier. Your customers are probably planning their holiday shopping lists now, and many may have already started to buy. Even if they haven’t thought about shopping, you should definitely inform them of the pending short season. This will help create a sense of urgency – and gratitude for the heads-up.

Reward Your Early Birds

One of the best ways to jump start early sales is to develop special offers that give your customers convenient options, savings or other rewards for ordering early. A countdown timer on the home page of your website will help motivate sales and encourage your customers to buy now. Even though Halloween is still around the corner, you can begin your promotions in mid-October and continue running the early bird messaging throughout November.

This will increase your holiday sales, and it will also give you a big head start on fulfillment. Your October and November sales should be incentivized with offers for low cost or, even better, free shipping. Remind your early bird shoppers that waiting until the last minute may jeopardize on-time gift deliveries. The only thing worse than receiving a late gift? Giving a late gift. A well-timed warning message coupled with an appealing offer can increase sales and help you to rack up plenty of early orders, long before the last-minute shoppers submit their panic-orders.

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Prepare and Promote Gift Kits

e-Commerce holiday shopping and kitting go together like Santa’s milk and cookies; you should not have one without the other. Kitting is the process of prepacking and bundling together several similar or complementary products to create an offer that is a win-win for both the customer and the merchant. A few good examples of kitting are offers for add-on items with discounted pricing, a group of products bundled together at a lower cost, or a group of similar products sold together at a discounted rate (think baseball bat, ball and mitt) or related products offered together at an economical price (like a robe, book and coffee mug). Kitting is also a great way to get rid of certain older inventory items that are ready for clearance.

When it comes to fulfillment and shipping, kitting will offer several benefits that include time and labor savings and lower shipping costs when you consider how much it would cost to ship the items separately. Holiday product offerings can be kitted together ahead of time and pre-packed for speedy picking and shipping. The key to successful kitting is to pay careful attention to your product costs and the dimensions and weights of the packed items, and then price and bundle accordingly.

Reward Repeat Shoppers

Reward (and encourage) repeat shoppers by including a special printed offer in every package you ship during your pre-holiday promotion. Offers like Buy One/Get One and discount codes for use during check out have been proven to be a cost-effective means of generating repeat business. However, the key is to make sure that everything goes smoothly with the initial purchase, fulfillment and shipping. Studies have shown that if an order is not filled correctly 29% of shoppers will never return to purchase again. Among online shoppers recently surveyed by UPS, 83% were willing to wait two days longer for free shipping, however 57% of online shoppers expect their orders to be delivered within 7 days or less.

During this year’s compressed holiday season, fulfillment and delivery is almost guaranteed to be a challenge for nearly every e-Commerce retailer. Those who act NOW can get a head start on generating holiday profits and making happy customers. Even if you’ve delayed in your preparations, you still have time to take advantage of outsourced fulfillment services from Rakuten Super Logistics, formerly known as Webgistix.

The Rakuten Super Logistics 2-Day Delivery model, responsive customer service and 100% accuracy guarantee give you the highest quality fulfillment in the industry at the lowest possible cost. All orders are guaranteed to ship out within 1 business day, and to ship with the right number and type of product. When you partner with Rakuten Super Logistics you will find that your reputation grows and customers keep coming back throughout the year.