August 1, 2016

Santa Has Started His Holiday Planning and So Should You

Author: Renee Bingling

 

We now know Santa’s secret to flawlessly pulling off all his holiday deliveries in just one night. It’s pretty simple! While we are sipping lemonade and enjoying our lazy summer days, Santa has already started planning. He has learned that with a well laid out game plan, you will be better able to manage the frenzy and hiccups that inevitably come with the last four months of the year.

 

 

Here are five tips to jumpstart your holiday shipping plans, from the grandmaster of shipping himself:

 

1. How Did You Do Last Year?

There is a great saying that goes “the past is where you learned the lesson, the future is where you apply it”.  Now that you have some time before the holiday season, why not take a thorough look at last year’s data. Identify what worked; what didn’t and what had potential. Remember to not only look at the “what” and the “how” but also the “why”. A good place to start understanding the “why” is by looking at the relationships between different factors, such as the number of days for shipping and cart abandonment, as well as shipping costs and profit margin. Doing an audit of last year’s data will keep you from repeating mistakes.

 

2. Check Your List - Twice

One of the things that we know about Santa is that he is very detail-oriented. He checks everything – twice! Now that you have dived deep into last year’s data, you can now craft a detailed shipping game plan with a check list.  Your plan should include details such as early bird specials, desired inventory levels based on proven best sellers, omni-channel fulfillment, vendor deadlines, shipping contingencies and a reverse logistics plan for returns. Also, keep abreast of when the major shipping providers such as FedEx®, UPS® and the USPS® post their holiday shipping deadlines and their seasonal delivery terms. For online retailers, ensure that there is a plan to prevent or manage back orders. One of the solutions to preparing for back orders is to hold on to some of your best sellers way ahead of November. This is a great contingency just in case your supplier runs into production or delivery difficulties. Santa leaves nothing up to chance and you shouldn’t either.

 

3. Do You Have Enough Reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, and of course Rudolph. Everyone knows Santa could not pull off his great yearly feat without his team. Businesses have to ensure that they have the support necessary to meet the increase in customer demands. Multi-carrier shipping software enables companies to easily meet requirements for compliant labeling, without having to change printers, label stock, or systems. This reduces carrier charge-backs for non-compliant issues, and reduces the overall amount spent on freight. Be reminded that even after the holidays, you will more than likely need the additional support to process the post-holiday returns and exchanges. Your reverse logistics plan is also critical to securing repeat customers and building goodwill. Additionally, the way you handle inbound parcels can make or break productivity in your workplace. Manual processes are time-consuming, labor-intensive and prone to error. With inbound tracking software, you can track and monitor mail pieces right from your desktop. 

 

 4. Do You Need New Sleighs?

Santa is able to depend on his sleigh as much as his reindeers. Similarly, you want to ensure that your resources are able to satisfactorily support the demands of the holidays. Often, small and medium businesses’ holiday income is impacted by their accounting, invoicing, inventory and shipping procedures and infrastructure.

 

Long, complex and unpredictable manual procedures drive away potential customers and frustrate employees, often leading to missed business opportunities. The holiday season is a good time to invest in solutions that automate your invoicing and inventory procedures, as well as an affordable PC-connected shipping solution that speeds up your shipping process.

 

5. How Does Santa Know Everything About Me?

Santa always knows your name, what you like, where you live and whether you’ve been naughty or nice. St. Nicholas has mastered the art of knowing his customers. Planning your business’ holiday shipping cannot be done in isolation from your customer engagement strategy. Google Trends shows that the surge of customers searching for Christmas gift ideas actually begins in August. As early as possible, engage holiday shoppers through sweepstakes, discounts, offered through newsletters, blogs, emails, social media and direct mail. Use these to acquire customer data to build your customer database. To control the accuracy of your customer data, there are desktop and mobile apps that repair bad customer addresses, remove duplicates and keep track of a client even when they have changed addresses. How do you think Santa always knows where you live?

For more shipping know-how, check out our shipping website

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