Cyber Weekend 2021 — aka the most profitable three days in all of eCommerce — is right around the corner. 47% of Americans say they only plan to shop online for gifts, according to a survey by Morning Consult. So how can you prepare for a holiday season more lucrative than ever?
1. Be Transparent
Customers like surprises when they're gift-wrapped with a bow on top. Out of stock notifications, unforseen shipping costs, delivery delays – nobody likes these sorts of surprises.
It's important to open a line of communication with customers for the entirety of the purchase experience. Use your website, monthly emails, and post-purchase outreach to be transparent about the status of your inventory, delivery dates and shipping costs. Upfront and honest communication is a key way to gain shoppers' trust, and pave the way for repeat orders in years to come.
2. Observe Delivery Cutoff Dates
Late deliveries can be a big disappointment. So it's smart to map out the last send-by date you can ship an order to have it arrive on time. Call or message your courier directly to find this date, or just look in your Easyship dashboard to see the delivery lead time for the service.
Cutoff dates are less vital for Cyber Monday, sure, but crucial at Christmas. With holiday cheer at stake, be sure to check the final send-by date from your chosen holiday couriers. Here are the deadlines for US couriers in 2021:
Once you set these dates, share them widely on your website, email promotions and even social media. By leveraging these dates as a Black Friday marketing tool, you can encourage customers to make purchases far before the cut off, avoiding any belated arrivals.
Of course, your store’s deadlines are up to your own discretion. You may need to extend the delivery lead time due to the time it takes to produce products, source goods or to just for expected delays. Whatever the case, the name of the game here is managing customer expectations. Consider being flexible and setting staggered ship-by dates for customers who are local, domestic and international.
3. Offer Multiple Shipping Options
Who doesn’t like choices? Offering multiple couriers and shipping options is an advantage in eCommerce, where customers expect fast and often free shipping. One study found that 2 in 3 online shoppers choose their retailers by the shipping options.
This makes sense. Some customers are willing to pay extra for expedited shipping. Others don’t mind waiting for a cheaper order overall. You can display three live courier rates in your checkout from any courier with Easyship. Our Rates at Checkout feature puts your buyers in control of shipping costs and speed, like on Amazon, to help you boost conversions and win repeat business from choosy modern shoppers.
4. Lock Down Your Return Policy
It’s nice to imagine that the customer journey ends with the checkout process, but that’s almost universally not true. Aside from the unboxing experience, many customers will continue on their journey making eCommerce returns. But that’s not always a bad thing. If handled properly, it can actually strengthen their relationship to your brand. Seriously: 96% of customers won't purchase from your store in the future if they have a bad experience with returns — meaning it requires a lot of money and work on their end.
How is this possible? Like all things, through transparency. In this case, specifically through transparency in the return policy, which should be clearly laid out in your brand’s shipping policy. If you don’t have one yet, no worries. You can get started with Easyship’s free shipping policy generator, easily customizable to your needs. Make sure that your return policy is elaborate and clearly defines all the conditions and charges associated with the return process, like shipping and restocking fees.
Simply drafting a policy isn’t enough. Make sure that it’s accessible to customers. You can be sure to include it as the fine print to any and all deals, emails and product pages — think of it as an extension of your Black Friday marketing plan.
5. Consider Free Shipping
As any small business owner knows, everything is marketing. Including how you ship. Of course, there’s the branding and design aspect, but that’s a given. These days, free shipping isn’t seen as a bonus, but a barrier to purchase. Bear in mind, nine out of 10 customers say it’s a deciding factor when they shop online. And that is especially true around the holidays, as people will seek out Black Friday deals that include free shipping.
However, any small business owner also knows that free shipping adds up fast. The business cost of shipping without charge, which has been normalized by big box companies, is unsustainable. So what’s an eCommerce merchant to do? Well, there are several courses of action. Here are some ways you can make Black Friday free shipping happen:
- Free shipping on best-selling items
- Free shipping on high-value “bundles” of items
- Limited-time-only Free shipping during the holiday season, beginning on Black Friday
- Raise product prices to accommodate for the business cost of free shipping
- Make free shipping available to customers who spend a certain amount above average (ie: Free shipping on orders over $100)
While certainly not a definitive list, the above-mentioned strategies are commonly used methods that help to absorb business costs.
When it comes to Cyber Weekend 2021, the best thing you can do for success of your eCommerce store is to plan, plan and then follow your plans.
Nervous about all the hubbub around Black Friday? Sail through the tides of international eCommerce with Easyship. By partnering with the leading couriers to offer over 250+ shipping solutions, globally, we do all the heavy lifting for you. We also give you the opportunity to gain a personal, competitive edge by creating branded tracking emails and packing slips, providing your customers with a genuine, branded experience.
Sign up for an Easyship account today to supercharge your holiday shipping!