If you own or manage a retail business, you know how important it is for orders to arrive on time during the holiday season. Missing an important date could ruin an otherwise perfect experience that your customer has with your business. This year, manufacturing challenges and backed-up shipping terminals are just two reasons avoiding delivery delays may be a challenge this holiday season.
Here’s a look at the proactive steps you can take to avoid delivery delays this holiday season and some of the best tools to help you get your products to customers on time.
Order everything you’ll need earlier than usual
At the start of COVID-19, we saw shortages in a range of consumer goods, most visibly household products and cleaning supplies, as nearly every American household prepared for the uncertainty of the pandemic. While you can now find toilet paper, masks, and disinfectants without too much trouble, we’re still facing global supply chain shortages and shipping backups.
More than a hundred ships are waiting for unloading at busy California ports, just one sign of the seriousness of supply chain challenges. Ordering shipping supplies, materials, and wholesale products early can help you avoid shortages of critical items.
Supply chain bottlenecks are a global concern ahead of the busy holiday season. Some fear that the raw materials and shipping problems will get worse before they get better, so order everything you’ll need as early as possible.
Optimize customer shipments
With a surge in eCommerce, your business may be inundated with more orders than ever. To stay organized and efficient, it’s a good idea to incorporate the latest technology to optimize customer shipments.
Modern inventory management software should include features for vendor management and shipping. Vendor management helps businesses of all sizes track vendors, vendor pricing, purchase orders, and other critical details so you can easily order and reorder whenever necessary.
Square for Retail includes these and other useful vendor management and shipping features. Square for Retail is free for some businesses, with low monthly fees and credit card processing discounts for growing businesses with inventory and vendor management needs.
Work with shippers to understand holiday deadlines
If your shipping vendors are an essential part of delivering your product, it’s wise to take a proactive approach to shipping relationship management. Consider reaching out to your preferred shipping partners to understand deadlines for an on-time arrival during the busy holiday season.
Knowing shipping deadlines helps you prepare for the holiday rush and communicate your own holiday shipping cutoff to your loyal customers well ahead of time. Shipping deadlines may also influence staffing decisions and operating hours through the end of the year.
For domestic ground shipping, deadlines start as early as December 9.
Engage customers to avoid late orders
While it’s easy to procrastinate and hold off on buying holiday gifts at the last minute, your customers are likely to have a better experience if they plan and order ahead. This locks in the sale for your business and gives peace of mind that the package is safely delivered well before the deadline.
Good customer communication can help avoid overpromising and underdelivering. Set clear expectations and only make delivery promises you’re confident you can keep. Strong marketing communication around holiday shipping deadlines can lead to a win-win for you and your customers.
Square Marketing includes features to create, send, and track email marketing campaigns, a top customer communication method. Square Marketing recently grew to feature text message marketing campaigns, a quick and easy way to keep your business front of mind.
Creating happy customers this holiday season
The last year has been stressful for many people, and many are looking forward to a happy holiday with their family as a reprieve from the challenges of daily life. Getting a present into your customer’s hands on time may play an essential role in their plans. With good planning, the right tools, and clear communication, you’ll be able to deliver the experience they expect.