Black Friday and Cyber Monday shipping can be two of the most rewarding but challenging times for e-commerce merchants.
The influx of sales look good on paper, but other factors such as ensuring orders are fulfilled, shipping costs remain as low as possible, communication with customers is maintained, and returns are handled with care can make or break the holidays for your online business.
In order to help you prepare, executives from some of the top brands in the e-commerce world have come together to discuss everything your e-commerce business should consider now.
Executives from Loop Returns, Passport Shipping, Malomo, Gorgias, ShipHero, and Shippo’s very own VP of Carrier Partnerships, Vincent DeAngelis joined the roundtable discussion.
Here are some of the top takeaways from the DTC BFCM WTF Roundtable.
Delays Will Be Inevitable, So Sell Early
As many are well aware, the global supply chain delays are affecting e-commerce merchants ability to deliver products to their customers. It’s also affecting e-commerce businesses’ ability to stock up on inventory.
With that in mind, e-commerce merchants should consider the following:
- Sell As Early As Possible – Avoid trying to push out orders and send packages during Black Friday or Cyber Monday and instead begin that process sooner. Announcing sales earlier is one way to do this.
- Be Careful How You Set BFCM Sales – Giving too big of discounts could leave you out of inventory and unable to restock in time for additional Christmas shoppers. Understand that your competition is facing the same challenges and consumers are ready to purchase, so you may not have to be as aggressive with promotions in years past.
- Diversify Your Carrier Mix – In order to limit delays in shipping, having multiple options in which you can deliver to your customers will be essential. Best-in-class shipping solutions like Shippo give you access to labels from 85+ carriers including regional and international options.
Last but not least, understand that some customers are going to be dissatisfied with the delays. However, don’t let that discourage you or your team. Try to make sure everyone in your e-commerce business maintains a positive attitude.
If You’re Shipping Internationally, Look To The DDP Method
For e-commerce merchants who are going to be shipping internationally for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are a couple of concepts to understand in order to avoid any bottlenecks at the border.
When your packages reach the country of your customer, they’ll most likely incur duties and taxes to be collected at customs on that package before they can continue to your customer.
You can choose the method of Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU) or Delivery Duty Paid (DDP).
- DDU – means the receiver is responsible for paying duties and taxes. Customs will reach out to them once they have their package to collect any fees. However, this can create a bottleneck for your company if you plan on selling multiple packages to that country.
- DDP – means the sender is responsible for paying duties and taxes. This will help bypass the need for customs to contact your customers and speed up the shipping process.
When implementing this method, you can either add that cost at checkout for your customers to pay, or your business can pay for that cost out right. Not charging your customers can help ensure your customers don’t abandon their cart, but it can also become costly to do this.
You’ll want to assess your business and weigh out the pros and cons of implementing either method for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shipping of this year.
Automate Customer Communications When Applicable
Effective communication with customers throughout their buying journey on your site will be vital for handling customer inquiries.
You’ll want to be sure they know when they can expect their orders to arrive before they even purchase your products. But, even with that you’ll likely still see a 40-50% increase in customer service tickets asking “where is my order?”
In those instances, setting up automated replies with tracking information for their orders will help your customer support team save hours and help customers with more complicated needs.
That also means that your tracking pages will have to be updated every step of the way and written in a way that makes sense to your customers. Tracking pages are being viewed 11 times the amount of time as they were in 2019, so this is a part of your business you won’t want to overlook for BFCM.
With Shippo’s Pro and Premier Plans you can even create customized branded tracking pages for your e-commerce buisness.
And lastly, you’ll want to make sure that your customer support team is knowledgeable in how the carriers go about shipping products. This will allow them to better explain to customers what is happening with their package and why it is happening.
For example, there are times where certain packages aren’t scanned in order to save time and deliver them sooner, or a carrier might hand off a package to another carrier which can possibly delay any updates to the order status.
Your e-commerce business will likely be flooded with customer questions but using automation, optimizing tracking pages, informing your team on proper messaging, and making sure they cover every channel of customer communication will be key to succeeding this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
It’s Okay To Be Generous On Return Deadlines
Returns are guaranteed to happen as it’s a natural part of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shipping so you’ll want to make sure you’ve carefully reviewed your return policy.
Sites that have more friendly return policies generate more sales. However, for this year’s BFCM it will be crucial to give customers time to get their returns in because the same delays that are happening with delivery will occur with returns.
Giving your customers 60 days instead of a 30 day return policy for instance may give your customers more confidence that they’ll be able to get a refund and not break your policy due to possible carrier delays. Including a return shipping label can also give customers confidence in their purchase.
When your customers make an international return, they’re also going to want a refund from paying duties and taxes. They also don’t want to pay for duties and taxes again on your product when it returns to the country of origin.
One way to lessen the cost if possible is to have a warehouse within that country to accept those returns and keep them there.
For more on how to prepare your e-commerce business for the holiday season, visit our holiday shipping center.
Sign up to Shippo for free and start optimizing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shipping, as well as throughout peak season, now.