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Tips to Prepare for Black Friday (and Cyber Monday)

black friday ecommerce shipping

Everything has changed this year, and holiday shopping is no exception. As the coronavirus continues to spread, retailers have had to come up with creative ways to attract Black Friday shoppers while creating a safe shopping experience. In addition to implementing contactless pickup options, stores are widening their aisles, adding registers to avoid congestion and offering pre-booked shopping times.

But despite retailers’ efforts to make in-store shopping as safe as possible, three-quarters of people surveyed by RetailMeNot said they prefer to shop online this year. The same percentage said they will try to have their holiday shopping done as early as possible. That means businesses must be ready to deliver, so we’ve put together a rundown of strategies to help you prepare and make the season bright for you and your customers.


Extend your sale dates

Carrier capacity will be tighter than ever this season, and holiday shoppers are being warned to prepare for delays and bottlenecks that some are calling “Shipageddon.” In fact, due to these anticipated delays, experts say those who haven’t yet started their holiday shopping are already behind. One way to help your customers receive their orders in time for the holidays is by expanding your Black Friday sales window. Giving customers early holiday deals can be a great way to spread out demand over a more manageable timeframe and alleviate shipping bottlenecks.


Prepare inventory for the rush

There are several ways to get your inventory in top shape ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Before the rush starts, verify that you have enough inventory to meet demand. Reviewing historical sales data and which products have been popular can help you predict which items are likely to be top-sellers. Additionally, retailers should dispose of “dead inventory,” or slow-moving stock that takes up space and ties up cash. This will help make room for new items and safety stock to lower your risk of stockouts. Smaller retailers that have limited capacity and don’t want to risk overstocking items should consider having similar products available so customers can purchase comparable items.


Assemble bundles in advance

When holiday shopping, consumers are not just looking for discounts but value. One way retailers deliver extra value during the holidays is through product bundles and bonus gifts, which hold greater value than standalone products. Mystery boxes—packages filled with surprise products—are another increasingly popular way to captivate holiday shoppers. These not only create an exciting customer experience, but also help retailers clear out inventory. Ask your fulfillment partner to do kitting and assembly in advance to ensure these items are ready before the holiday rush. If you perform these services in house, store the bundled items near each other so they can be picked and packed more efficiently.


Offer free shipping and options

Amazon has had an undeniable impact on consumer expectations. Shoppers want to order products with ease and receive them quickly without paying for shipping. Free shipping makes shoppers feel like they’re getting a deal, and many will even buy more items to hit the free shipping minimum order threshold. While many shoppers will choose free shipping if given the choice, others will be willing to pay more for expedited delivery. Research shows that customers simply want options.


Optimize your packaging—and make it special

Your packaging is an extension of your brand and a critical component of the customer experience. Packaging not only provides in-transit protection but also presents an opportunity for cost savings. Evaluate whether you are using the right materials—and the right amount of materials—for maximum efficiency. Optimizing the size and weight of your packaging and eliminating excess materials saves you money while also reducing the environmental impact.

Another important packaging consideration is the experience your customer will have when they open their package. Memorable, unique packaging that gives customers a special (and frustration-free) unboxing experience can improve your brand value and turn customers into brand advocates. A thank-you note, coupon, bonus gift or sample will also surprise your customer and make them feel appreciated. With the number of YouTube channels dedicated to unboxing and the millions of views they garner, it seems likely that having memorable packaging is a trend that’s here to stay.


Be prepared for returns

When the rush of returns starts, usually shortly after Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it is critical for businesses to have a strong returns management plan in place to deliver a positive customer experience and build trust and loyalty. An effective returns strategy should be focused on expediency and transparency, which require proper planning, systems and resources.

To process a greater number of returns as efficiently as possible, make sure that you are properly staffed and that you’re taking advantage of automated workflows in your system. It’s also important to be transparent about your return policy and ensure it is communicated clearly so customers know what to expect. And, as always, customers should have full visibility to shipment and tracking information.


Take care of your employees

Last but certainly not least, remember to take care of your team. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to provide quality customer service and be more productive. With the high-stress environment of a fulfillment center around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, plus the longer holiday hours, this time of year is at high-risk for employee turnover. Maintain open communication by having conversations with employees to make sure they feel appreciated during this critical time.

Your supply chain planning is tested during peak seasons like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but with proper preparation and a flexible range of options, your supply chain can meet these challenges. Our team of professionals is here with industry-leading supply chain solutions and services to support your business and help you deliver excellence all year long. Contact us today at 877.728.5328 to speak with one of our supply chain experts.




Ecommerce Shipping Statistics to Keep in Mind Before Peak Shipping Season – Part 2

ecommerce shipping stats 2020

For more than two decades, Visible Supply Chain Management has worked with small businesses and large enterprises across the country to reduce their costs and improve their shipping operations. Our team is committed to ensuring our clients are well-positioned to deliver the best possible experience to their customers throughout the year.

As part of this commitment, we’ve compiled a second set of ecommerce shipping statistics for e-tailers to keep in mind as we approach peak season and prepare for 2021. Click here to view part 1, or read on to learn more.


Global parcel volume is forecasted to reach 200 billion by 2025

Global parcel volume was 87 billion in 2018 and surpassed 100 billion in 2019.


2,760 packages are shipped per second

When you break down the total number of packages shipped around the world per year, reports show that nearly 3,000 packages are shipped every second. The US has the highest parcel revenue, generating $119 billion last year.


63% of respondents expect delivery within 72 hours

Amazon has had a major impact on consumer expectations, especially when it comes to delivery time. In fact, nearly two-thirds (63%) of online shoppers expect their orders to be delivered within 72 hours. Forty percent say taking more than two days for delivery would prevent them from making a purchase. Many businesses now offer same-day delivery, so there is even greater pressure on e-tailers of all sizes to offer this service.


51% expect a shipping cost refund if the order is delivered late

Shoppers who pay for shipping expect to get their money’s worth. More than half (51%) expect e-tailers to refund them the cost of shipping in cases of late delivery.


84% of respondents made a purchase from an online retailer because it offered free shipping

Free shipping makes consumers feel like they’re getting a deal, even if they have to spend more to get it. According to a BigCommerce research study, 90% of Millennial and 85% of Gen Z survey respondents indicated they have added items to their cart solely to hit a minimum order threshold for free shipping. Half of the survey respondents said they avoid shopping with retailers that do not offer free shipping.


One-third of consumers stop shopping with a brand after a poor delivery experience

The post-purchase customer experience can have a major impact on a company’s reputation and brand loyalty. A 2019 shopping study from Pitney Bowes shows that 54% of consumers will shop with a retailer less often (or never again) after a bad delivery experience, and 19% of millennials will complain on social media.


25% is the average return rate of ecommerce orders

Ecommerce shipping and returns go hand in hand, which is why sellers need to have both in tip-top shape before seasonal shopping gets underway. Shoppers are looking for a good return policy, automated processes, and free returns.


Shipping tips for ecommerce sellers

Now that you have all the latest ecommerce shipping statistics, here are some shipping tips that can help you knock this holiday season out of the park.

Manage delivery expectations. With this year’s surge of ecommerce volumes and carrier capacity constraints, getting orders to consumers may take longer than normal. Be transparent about what customers can realistically expect in terms of delivery. Proactively communicating the possibility of delivery delays is a good way to manage expectations, build trust, and earn customer loyalty.

Use branded packaging. Your packaging is the last chance you get to make an impression before customers try out your products. It’s another important piece of the brand narrative. Particularly interesting packaging can even be turned into unboxing videos on YouTube or other social media channels. Visible provides industry-leading custom packaging options that will help your brand make a lasting impression on every customer.

Right-size your packages. Modern consumers are eco-conscious, so they want to see minimal packaging that can be reused or recycled. Therefore, all shipments should be right-sized, meaning the packaging is only slightly larger than the items being shipped. Just make sure there is room for protective materials to minimize the risk of damage in transit.
Offer multiple shipping options. Some shoppers will choose fast while others choose free, but the majority of them simply want options.

Show real-time carrier rates. Surprise costs and fees are major contributors to cart abandonment, so be transparent with your customers if you do charge for shipping. There are plenty of plug-ins that will show the most up-to-date carrier rates so shoppers can choose the carriers that work best for them.

Implement hassle-free returns. Online shoppers want to know that they can return any items that don’t work out, regardless of the reason. By implementing hassle-free returns, you can streamline your workflow and make your busy holiday season easier. It also gives you more time to focus on your high shipping volumes and boosting sales.


Visible Helps Shippers with Shipping Costs, Fulfillment, and More

As your partner, Visible can help you understand how these statistics impact your business and tailor a plan for your unique needs. Visible is the largest USPS Authorized Reseller, and we have many programs to reduce your shipping costs. From scalable order fulfillment to customized packaging, Visible gives shippers an edge over the competition with better shipping on every front. Contact us today at 877.728.5328 to speak with one of our supply chain experts.