This is a guest post from our shipping partner ShipStation. SkuVault and ShipStation integrate together to seamlessly transfer and organize all your shipping needs across sales channels. Check them out here.
The evenings are getting shorter and the kids have gone back to school. That sweater you haven’t seen for six months is starting to look cozy and, of course, the traffic is getting worse.
What does all this mean? Here come the holidays. The holidays, without a doubt, can be the craziest time of year for eCommerce merchants. If you aren’t prepared it can be a stressful experience that evokes as much dread as excitement.
Okay, enough negativity. Holidays should be the best time of year for merchants. More traffic, increased sales, and happy customers. This can only happen though if you start preparing now!
Let’s identify some useful tips and ideas that will help you get started.
Simplify Your Returns Policy
33% of online sellers will complete an online purchase if the returns process is easy!
That being said, make sure your return policy is easy to find on your website and that all the information is clear and easy to understand. Ensure that the return policy is visible wherever a customer would look for it. This includes on your product pages, at the checkout, in the confirmation emails, on your branded tracking page, and in the physical package.
Providing return packaging is another way to make returns convenient for the customer. Include the shipping label. Close to half of online shoppers want an easy-to-print return label, according to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper.
Consider whether you want to establish a centralized returns portal for your customers. Customer-initiated returns can reduce the need for lengthy customer service calls or email exchanges.
Extended returns and the promise of free returns shipping will help holiday shoppers purchase with confidence. It’s totally plausible that the product won’t actually get to its intended recipient until weeks after purchase. Don’t punish your customers for purchasing early in November. Reward them for being forward-thinking by extending the holiday returns period until the end of January or into February. If your normal policy allows returns within 30 days of the purchase date, try extending this time frame for the holidays.
Keep in mind that returns are an opportunity to make a new sale. An easy process could lend itself to a lifelong customer, more orders, better customer reviews, and new customers flocking to your online business. Remember these key facts:
- At least 30% of all products ordered online are returned vs. 8.89% of purchases in brick and mortar stores
- 67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase
- 58% of shoppers want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy
- 47% want an easy-to-print return label
- 27% of customers would purchase an item online that costs more than $1,000 if it had free return shipping vs. 10% who will purchase it anyway
In conclusion, remember these 5 words when thinking about your holiday returns policy: Easy, Simple, Convenient, Flexible and Seamless. Do this and you will be rewarded with happier customers and more sales.
Offer Free Shipping
According to the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, free shipping is the most important option when checking out online.
If other brands in your niche are offering free shipping, you should offer it to stay competitive. However, even if they don’t offer free shipping you will likely gain a competitive edge over your competitors if you do.
Research shows, over 80% of shoppers research before buying a product. They’ll also browse three stores before making that purchase. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t have any competitors, because potential customers will find them. Having that ‘free shipping’ option could be the deal breaker.
Customers may be willing to pay more for your product if you offer free shipping. Surprise fees can also increase cart abandonment.
While it may not be realistic to offer free shipping year-round, seriously consider implementing this strategy during the holiday season to boost conversion potential and customer acquisition.
About the author: Adam Foster manages social media and content at ShipStation. Aside from doing the odd blog and social post, Adam has recently become a first-time dad.