We’re bringing you some holiday tips from NS8 partners to help you prep for this year. For this first interview, we sat down with Tommaso Tamburnotti, co-founder of Easyship. Tommaso leads their team, offering an end-to-end shipping platform that connects merchants to their customers at home and around the globe. As a master of holiday shipping preparation, Tommaso shared his insights with us to help your store get ready for another successful holiday season.
Can you explain the biggest hurdles that keep stores from meeting shipping times during the holidays?
A number of hurdles exist to meeting shipping times during the holidays.
The largest one is keeping up with the increased volume of orders, which can potentially cause fulfillment and shipping backlogs. In addition, other hurdles include adverse weather, which can delay shipments to customers, and more generally speaking, the added stress of the shipping crunch time that the holidays inevitably bring.
Are there any general tips that can help companies keep up with shipping needs at this busy time of year?
Fulfillment and shipping during the holidays can be very stressful, but following a few general tips can make things much easier! A few to keep in mind include:
- Staying ahead of the curve. Ship orders immediately after you receive them in order to prevent a backlog from building up.
- Planning ahead effectively. The earlier you plan for the holidays, the better. Many businesses actively plan their holiday season in Q3, providing holiday sales estimates to their suppliers and warehousing partners so they are aware of what to expect year-end. Keep your inventory topped up to avoid running out of stock or having too many or too few of a particular product.
- Communicate with customers effectively. If you have any shipping delays or, on the flipside, special promotions such as free shipping, let them know well in advance with email blasts, social media updates, pop up notifications, and blog posts.
- Use extra packaging. Doing so will provide a hedge against damaging your parcels during transit, as couriers deal with an increased volume of shipments during the holidays, which in turn raises the risk of damage.
- Manage customer expectations. Make sure your shipping terms are transparent and clear to keep any misunderstanding by customers to a minimum.
- Take returns in account. An overlooked yet important aspect of holiday shipping is the inevitable returns. Plan on receiving returns in advance and craft a returns policy that minimizes any hassles for both your company and your customers.
What is the best way to communicate delays due to weather/volume/etc?
Online merchants should consider posting on their blog, website and social media channels to communicate any delays right away. For additional efficiency, they can send automated emails to customers who’ve placed orders to inform them directly of any delays they should expect.
Are there any tips for handling the shipping of gift returns?
Online merchants may want to consider providing pre-printed return labels, instructions and packaging to improve the customer experience when returning products, lessen any issues that your workforce may have when receiving returns and boost your brand image. Budgeting an adequate number of staff and resources to handle returns in the days after the holiday season is also crucial.
How can companies best handle damaged products during high-volume times?
The best approach is to adopt a strategy that minimizes hassle for both your company and your customers.
Have a dedicated team of staff ready to inspect any returns that have been reported as being damaged and be ready to refund the customer immediately afterwards. You may also want to consider sending customers who’ve returned damaged items some discount codes and other special perks as a way to retain their business in the future.
More generally, be sure to have shipping insurance that covers damaged items and a transparent shipping policy that spells out exactly how damaged items are handled very clearly.
Are there any tools or tricks that you recommend to companies for this time of year to make shipping is smooth and easy?
Always plan well in advance! Be sure to get a solid estimate of how much inventory you’ll need months before the holiday season, especially for trending products that are expected to be in high demand.
Just as importantly, don’t panic in the face of increased orders. Stay on top of things by fulfilling and shipping orders as soon as you get them and communicate any possible delays to your customers immediately via email, social media and your blog to keep them informed.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Easyship is an all-in-one shipping platform that offers online merchants many useful tools to help during the crunch of the holiday shipping and fulfillment time, including courier comparisons that dynamically display the cheapest, fastest and best value shipping solutions, access to 250+ pre-negotiated shipping solutions from major global couriers like FedEx, UPS, DHL and USPS, tax and duty automation for cross-border shipping, assistance with global fulfillment, shipment tracking, label generation and more.
In addition, our blog offers frequent updates and useful resources on ecommerce tips and trends, shipping tips, international shipping, global couriers, crowdfunding, fulfillment and more.