At DHL Express, the peak holiday season runs from Black Friday (late November) until Christmas, when delivery volumes will be over 40% higher than the average daily volume in our third quarter. And that’s before we even factor in COVID-19 and its unprecedented effect on the e-commerce sector.
Unsurprisingly, global lockdowns meant consumers shopped more online – some for the first time. A recent report1 by Adobe2 revealed total online spending in May 2020 reached USD$82.5 billion, up 77% year-over-year, accelerating e-commerce’s growth by “between 4 and 6 years.” Industry forecasts predict these new online shopping behaviors will stay in the long term, even as stores reopen.
With online sales increasing, opportunities for your e-commerce business are bigger than ever, particularly in the lead up to the holiday season. Research3 from Google found that "70% of UK shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons, and a similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store", meaning there is an opportunity for you to convert these 'browsers' at the point they're online.
If you operate globally, you’ll have additional international shipping preparations to consider in order to handle the increased demand. Given the complexities of global shipping, and the additional rules and changing regulations, it’s critical that your logistics team can move as quickly across borders as they can within them.
To ensure your company can survive the peak holiday period, and genuinely deliver on what your customers have ordered – on time, on target, and in one piece – you’ll need to have a clear holiday shipping strategy in place.
The best way to develop an efficient, cost-effective and reliable shipping strategy is to work with an experienced shipping and logistics partner who understands high-volume planning.
As ‘the world’s most international company’, DHL Express has a presence in over 220 countries and territories. This has given us the knowledge and expertise to navigate all the complex global customs regulations so shipments aren’t delayed.
In addition to finding the right shipping partner, retailers should consider the following key shipping issues:
Aim for an effective shipping offer
Holiday shipping offers and return policies must be clear and competitive within their category. In the e-commerce realm, shipping costs can be a decisive factor so be sure to have enticing delivery options. During the holiday season, most online customers expect to receive free shipping with a minimum purchase, and many actively seek out free shipping for returns and exchanges. The fact is, notification of shipping costs during an online transaction is a key reason for shopping cart abandonment. Therefore, even the smallest online sellers must at least consider free shipping in some form; and during the Cyber Monday rush, offering free shipping with no minimum purchase can set your site apart. Finally, be sure to clearly display estimated delivery dates and ordering cut-off dates for Christmas Eve delivery.
Consider free returns and exchanges
When it comes to the returns process, it’s also critical for online retailers to develop a clearly stated and consumer-friendly policy. 49% of online consumers will actively check a brand’s returns policy before committing to buy4, so a 'free returns for the holidays' approach can help you win customers. Furthermore, research shows that offering free online returns encourages a higher average basket spend amongst consumers5, so it’s an investment that will pay off in the end. Just be aware that e-commerce returns policies vary from country to country; for example, a European Union rule requires e-tailers to allow customers 14 days to return unwanted goods.