Get Ahead of the Curve: Preparing for Peak Season 2022

Aug 23, 2022

For many online retailers and business owners, the 2021 holiday shopping season was considered a huge success. According to Salesforce, e-commerce holiday sales in 2021 totaled about $1.14 trillion across November and December – a notable increase from the 2020 figures. This shows the sustained willingness of consumers to shop online since the outbreak of the pandemic.

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During the 2021 peak shopping season, delivery firms made several improvements and implemented plenty of solutions. From hiring seasonal personnel to leveraging email notifications, establishing seamless returns management, and offering free shipping, both online retailers and e-commerce logistics companies employed various strategies to improve service delivery and ensure an excellent customer experience. In light of these considerations, we have compiled a list of some important lessons we learned from the most recent peak season that may be helpful to both e-commerce sellers and consumers.

Leverage Email Notifications to Increase Customer Lifetime Value

Among the metrics used by businesses to measure profit is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). It is the total amount of profit your business makes from a particular customer. Due to how difficult it can be to acquire new customers, it is important for every business to nail these metrics. Fortunately, e-commerce businesses and logistics companies are able to increase CLV through transactional delivery notifications, such as order confirmation notifications, as well as shipping confirmation.

Based on our data, the "Customs" phase tends to have the highest open rate of 78.31%. This was followed by Delay (65.60%), Failed Attempt (68.64%) and Out for delivery (63.76%). Conversely, event phases such as Processing and Issue had an even lower open rate of 52.69% and 38.92%, respectively.

Whatsmore, the event phase "Out for delivery" remains one of the most important phases during the delivery journey, with the fourth-highest open rate of 63.8% and the fourth-highest click rate of 19.1%. Failed Attempt, Delay, and Processing had click rates of 25.55%, 23.45%, and 21.45%, respectively.

Among the most popular global trends in 2021 were giving customers more control over their delivery options, such as delivery times and parcel lockers. Customers were increasingly kept in the loop and provided with inflight delivery options. This helped ensure that delivery of their parcel could be completed within the expected timeframe.

Additionally, when parcels are out for delivery, sending a well-timed SMS notification can help mitigate failed delivery attempts. Customers who receive the SMS notification can take preemptive action, ensure that they're available to receive the package or reschedule deliveries, if necessary. In addition, it is essential to communicate with customers and keep them informed about their package – especially during the last stage of the delivery process – to create opportunities for repeat customers and ultimately increase Customer Lifetime Value.

Establish a Returns Management Process to Improve Brand Loyalty

According to research by McKinsey, return rates have risen to an average of 25% in e-commerce. During the peak shopping season, returns are completely inevitable. However, how you manage returns is extremely crucial. For this reason, businesses are encouraged to establish a seamless and well-defined returns management process.

Having a great returns management process can be a good way to entice your customers into making an exchange. This way, you won't be losing out on product sales, customers, or money. Furthermore, a returns management process that your customers can trust will help enhance your brand loyalty. Customers who purchase products from you will know that irrespective of what happens, they are covered.

If you have yet to, now may be a great time to revisit your returns policy. Evaluate which items are often returned, investigate why these products are getting returned and consider making necessary changes. By making your returns process as simple and efficient as possible for shoppers, you can maintain sales and set an improved customer experience.

Partner with Multiple Third-Party Logistics Providers to Avoid Being Overwhelmed

As mentioned earlier, sales figures reached a whopping $1.14 trillion worldwide during the peak season 2021. As more consumers continue to purchase items digitally, retailers and delivery companies may get overwhelmed with the fulfillment process or become unable to manage orders and deliveries. When this happens, brands may possibly lose money and customers during the peak season.

Besides, the majority of customers are known to have little to no tolerance for delayed shipments. According to a Voxware study, 69% of customers may not patronize a retailer in the future if their item isn't delivered within two days of the delivery date promised. During the December holidays or holiday shopping season, orders and deliveries will likely double. Hence, to ensure successful peak season campaigns, choosing the right 3PL is crucial.

These 3PL companies offer a range of logistics services, from inventory management, and warehousing, to transportation and fulfillment. With more parcel volumes to process, the right 3PL can ensure a seamless e-commerce logistics and fulfillment process for your business.  The company will also offer transparency in your supply chain and provide insights into your shipping and fulfillment performance, real-time inventory data, and so forth. Conversely, the wrong 3PL provider can cause significant delays in your fulfillment processes. In fact, this may result in slower deliveries.

Develop an Omnichannel Approach to Maximize Sales and Customer Satisfaction

According to statistics from Adobe 2021 Holiday Shopping report, about 42.4% of Cyber Week orders – including Black Friday and Cyber Monday – e-commerce revenue came from mobile sales. This indicates that more customers find it quite convenient to shop from their mobile devices. Hence, businesses that would like to maximize sales and improve customer satisfaction should develop an omnichannel approach.

The omnichannel approach allows businesses to offer customers the ability to shop from different touchpoints, including web, mobile apps, and brick-and-mortar shops. In a recent survey conducted by BigCommerce in conjunction with PayPal on consumer spending trends, it was revealed that about 66.7% of the UK respondents make purchases at least once every month using their mobile device.

However, mobile isn't the only place customers are turning to. These days, many customers still shop across other digital channels, such as marketplaces and social commerce. Therefore, in order to meet the needs of various customers, businesses, online retailers, and merchants should deliver a seamless shopping experience across channels.

Furthermore, to maximize sales and customer satisfaction, going omnichannel is definitely a must. A recent Coresight report revealed that 74% of retailers have either started to outline or implement their omnichannel strategy. Through an omnichannel approach, e-commerce businesses will be able to make multiple purchasing channels available to customers. Thereby, boosting traffic and sales.

Offer Free Shipping to Reduce Cart Abandonment Among Customers

Finally, the peak shipping season 2021 has shown that customers are more likely to place an order when enticed by a "free shipping" offer. To be more specific, offering free shipping can help reduce the abandonment of carts among online shoppers. It boosts average order value and can be a great way to reward your loyal customers during the holiday shopping season.

Moreover, free shipping is known to have a huge lure for customers, especially during the holiday shopping season. According to a 2021 Deloitte holiday shopping survey, 85% of shoppers consider free shipping as their top priority when shopping. With free shipping, you can increase sales, boost revenue, and give your business a competitive advantage over your competitors.

In another survey, it was revealed that about 59% of e-commerce shoppers will spend more if there is free shipping. Customers often find the phrase "free shipping" appealing and can easily influence their purchase decisions. In case you are in search of a way to reduce cart abandonment and improve sales, you should consider implementing free shipping during the peak season 2022.

Preparing for Peak Season 2022

In the world of retail, the stakes are undoubtedly higher during the peak seasons. This is a period where online sales often double. Businesses, online retailers, and brands need to learn from the triumphs and challenges of peak season 2021 while planning for the upcoming peak season. Among the significant takeaways include implementing a seamless returns management process, email notifications, working with 3PL providers, developing an omnichannel approach, and offering free shipping. By doing these, you can expect more holiday sales and set your business up for success during the peak season 2022.

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