Are you set for the 2020 holiday e-commerce sales? Well, consumers are. 75% of them will go online for holiday shopping with 64% of US consumers as excited about holiday shopping as they were in previous years. So says a recent survey of 820 adults. This is in spite of the ongoing pandemic.
Considering COVID-19’s global footprint, certain concerns arise that e-commerce entrepreneurs must address in order to deliver online shopping experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations during the forthcoming holiday season.
This is necessary to minimize avoidable returns, refunds, chargebacks, and general customer dissatisfaction characteristic of this period, and which can negatively impact holiday e-commerce sales and result in high churn rates.
4 More Key Focus Areas for Holiday E-commerce Sales
As the holiday season approaches, many online shoppers wonder about the safety of products, especially those emanating from China, the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak.
This is a legitimate concern considering that the virus can be contracted by surface transmission. However, medical evidence suggests that the virus may not survive in operational environments where other prevention measures like social distancing, and use of face masks are in place.
Further research shows that the virus can be viable for up to 4 hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard and up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel. Given standard shipping times and the ambient conditions under which international packages are shipped, it is safe to say that parcels are safe.
Parcel Arrive does a great job of communicating this fact to its inquisitive customers who want to know if it is safe to receive parcels from overseas. You should do the same on your website, reassure your customers that you take every precautionary measure to comply with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Shipping is another key focus area during holiday e-commerce sales because it is seasonal in nature. For instance, Deloitte reports that 27% of holiday shoppers will be purchasing gifts for others this season. A Christmas gift arriving on New Year’s Day is a day late and a dollar short.
With same day expedited delivery, Amazon has raised the bar. Now the average online shopper expects their items to arrive within days. Timeliness can be a major differentiator for e-commerce businesses during this holiday sales. And, whereas you may lack the wherewithal to pull off same day delivery like Amazon, you should aim to keep shipping time as low as possible.
Pricing can give you another competitive edge over the big players. This can be achieved by cutting down shipping cost or offering special holiday shipping discounts or outright free shipping. In cases like this, shoppers may be willing to wait a little longer.
Order Tracking and Delivery
Speaking of waiting, nothing is more annoying than being kept in the dark and not knowing exactly where your package is, it’s expected time of arrival, or whether it ever left the warehouse in the first place!
You can eliminate this bottleneck and keep your valuable customers in the loop throughout the entire fulfillment process by using a trusted order tracking services provider, the kind that is free to use and provides real-time order tracking of your shipment.
This can help to put your customers at ease by providing accurate order status information and help them to better plan their holiday activities including their movements and itinerary assuming they’re traveling out of town.
You should also pay keen attention to your last mile logistics process which can make up to 28% of a shipment’s total cost, as well as create the last and lastingl impressions upon your customers.
Sometimes orders don’t go exactly as planned, especially with fashion and apparel. In 2016, over a third of holiday purchases made online were expected to be returned after the holidays.
According to Statista, return deliveries or reverse logistics (excluding restocking expenses and inventory losses) will cost US retailers a whopping $550 billion by 2020.
Whereas, most of these returns are no apparent fault of customers, over 50% of US consumers engage in bracketing (ordering multiple sizes of the same apparel hoping to return the ones that don’t fit), according to Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar.
As you prepare for holiday e-commerce sales, take concrete steps to minimize returns, overhaul your reverse logistics processes and ensure smooth returns and refund processes for your customers. Nailing this can help you increase repeat purchase rates and customer lifetime value.
According to Deloitte, holiday e-commerce sales are expected to grow between 25% and 35% from November through January reaching between $182 billion and $196 billion.
By paying more attention to product safety, shipping, order tracking and delivery, and reverse logistics, you can improve your processes and record better overall holiday e-commerce sales.