All Posts By

Guest Author

Best-Kept Secrets for the Peak Holiday Season

By | Blog, Holiday

 

Looking for some guidance as you prepare for the peak holiday season?

Here’s a tip: Think beyond Black Friday.

With the explosive potential of each day from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, Black Friday is far from the only shopping holiday online sellers should prepare for.

This was one of several key takeaways from our recent webinar: Discover E-Commerce’s Best-Kept Secrets for Q4. The popular event combined knowledge from e-commerce and logistics experts at Newegg, ShipStation, and ChannelAdvisor to surface the best strategies for holiday selling in 2019.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights.

Read More

[Blog] Best-Kept Secrets for the Peak Holiday Season

By | Uncategorized

 

Looking for some guidance as you prepare for the peak holiday season?

Here’s a tip: Think beyond Black Friday.

With the explosive potential of each day from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, Black Friday is far from the only shopping holiday online sellers should prepare for.

This was one of several key takeaways from our recent webinar: Discover E-Commerce’s Best-Kept Secrets for Q4. The popular event combined knowledge from e-commerce and logistics experts at Newegg, ShipStation, and ChannelAdvisor to surface the best strategies for holiday selling in 2019.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights.

 

2 Trends That Will Impact 2019 Holiday Selling

In the 2019 holiday season there are key deadlines e-commerce retailers need to pay attention to in order to maximize their coverage in Q4.

1. A shorter season

Did you know the 2019 holiday season is six days shorter than it was in 2018?

After experiencing one of the longest Thanksgiving-to-Christmas e-commerce seasons last year, sellers are now faced with the shortest on record. Turkey Day falls on November 28, taking the Cyber 5 for a ride into December. This shift has numerous implications that you’ll need to be prepared for.

First, be sure to budget accordingly. While year-over-year revenue may not be as strong in November, there’s a chance you’ll see it rise the following month.

In addition, ensure you have processes in place to handle larger order volumes later in the season. The shorter season means you’ll have less time to handle an increased number of orders, so preparing inventory and logistics is essential.

 

2. An earlier start

By the time Halloween costumes are put away on November 1, holiday promotions will already be in full force. That means you’ll need to be ready with advertising extra early this year — and have promotions in place well before Black Friday hits.

Why? Because if you aren’t ready to start encouraging online sales before November 28, you’ll be missing out on a mountain of revenue potential.

Although Cyber Monday is still the biggest online shopping holiday, consumers are starting earlier and earlier. Thanksgiving Day shopping grew 28% year-over-year in 2018 — the biggest increase ever — and experts expect that Thursday-to-Wednesday momentum will continue in 2019.

In fact, based on analysis of sellers using the ChannelAdvisor platform, the strongest year-over-year increase in sales last year occurred on Thanksgiving Eve. With this in mind, be sure your systems are prepared for an influx of traffic starting Wednesday afternoon.

 

4 Strategies to Sell More This Holiday Season

Planning holiday strategy starts early with content, pricing, and maximizing channel coverage.

1. Optimize your product content

Planning for peak season advertising can be so intensive that it’s easy to let product content fall by the wayside. And yet, that’s exactly what consumers are most interested in. Seven in ten shoppers want to learn about products via content instead of ads.

Set aside time to optimize your listings and personalize your campaigns. In addition to product titles, descriptions and bullets, be sure to prioritize your email campaigns since this is where most consumers get the information they need to make purchasing decisions.

 

2. Time your pricing just right

When it comes to price-based promotions during the peak season, timing is everything. Our e-commerce experts suggest focusing on increased traffic starting November 1, followed by price drops as you get closer to Black Friday.

You can also maximize your profits by adjusting pricing intelligently. The last thing you want to do is drop to your bottom price right out of the gate. Customers will continue to shop throughout the holiday season, so you’ll need to have a bank of offers ready if you want to stay competitive well into December.

For example, minimum order promotions can be a great way to ensure your average order value is preserved as you entice customers to engage with your deals. If you can’t offer a discount — such as “spend $100, get 10% off — consider using a free shipping strategy to incentivize consumers to increase basket size.

 

3. Diversify your marketplace portfolio

If you’re selling on Amazon and eBay, you already have a great start. But based on the latest findings, it’s time to ramp up marketplace expansion.

Half of all worldwide online sales come from marketplaces, which jump during peak season. An impressive 60% of consumers plan to shop on marketplaces during the 2019 peak holiday season.

Yet another reason to expand your marketplace presence: Different marketplaces make it easy to extend different options for shipping and promotions, which allows you to extend a variety of offers to consumers. Consider options that allow you to reach wider audiences, such as Newegg, Walmart and Rakuten.

Just keep in mind that you’ll still want to maintain some individual value on each platform. It wouldn’t make sense to diversify your channels only to offer the same promotional deals on all of them.

The trick is to stagger your offers across various marketplaces to maximize your impact all season long. This “price exclusivity” will help ensure each placement is primed for success in the best way, and also keeps your partners happy.

 

4. Extend your shipping capabilities

If you really want to generate as much revenue as possible this season, expanding to global markets is key. More than 80% of retailers worldwide agree that cross-border e-commerce has been profitable, and 70% of consumers purchase from foreign sites.

Global selling can be highly lucrative during peak seasons, to say the least.

Of course, extending your reach across international borders can feel like a logistics nightmare when you’re just getting started.

To avoid issues and keep things running smoothly, the key is to focus on shipping software that can help manage international components such as international labels and customs forms.

This is also a time when you’ll want to overcommunicate delivery times, shipping costs and related information, since these are likely to take longer and cost more for overseas fulfillment.

 

Looking for more insights you can use to get a bigger competitive advantage in the Q4 holiday season for 2019? We have plenty! Leading experts go into greater detail on each of the above trends and strategies in our recent webinar. Watch it on-demand now for practical suggestions from ChannelAdvisor, ShipStation and Newegg.

 

This post was contributed by Cindy Puryear, Partner Marketing Manager for ChannelAdvisor.

[Blog] How Changing Customer Expectations Impact Your Holiday Shipping

By | Uncategorized

Each year, more customers pivot from brick and mortar stores to online shopping. As this overall volume increases, it’s only logical that holiday sales would also trend upwards. In fact, 2018 Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion in online sales, a growth of 23.6% year over year. Naturally, with increased online holiday shopping there is an increase in holiday shipping. And while there are more opportunities to attract more customers, this also makes for that much more competition. Understanding changing consumer demand is what makes you stand out among the competition and is your best shot at winning more sales and gaining repeat customers once the holiday season ends.

 

Free Shipping is the New Norm

While consumer demand for express shipping is high, there is still a greater emphasis on free shipping among most customers. According to the National Retail Federation, 75% of consumers expect free shipping on orders over $50. This is up from 68% in 2017.

To break it down into generations, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) wanted free shipping more than other groups—88% actually expecting it. That compares with 77% for Generation X (1965-1980), Millennials were the lowest with 61% for Millennials (1981-1994) and 76% for Generation Z (1995 and later).

While cart abandonment is an ever-present issue, many customers won’t even place an item in their cart unless they know shipping will be free. As we move into the holiday season—particularly the big, high-competition shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday—free shipping can mean the difference between making a sale or not. In fact, ShipStation’s survey and found that 69% of consumers would rather have free 5-10 day shipping than pay for it to arrive more quickly.

 

What About Express Shipping?

Expedited holiday shipping is a must-have for customers who are getting a late start on shopping, and helps bump up sellers in the eyes of consumers.

While Amazon Prime has rewired how we think about online delivery, not everyone sees all online purchases as needing express shipping. Express shipping is still important, but it is still seen as a value-added charge. This is particularly true of items in the following categories:

• Medicine
• Food
• Electronics
• Pet Supplies
• Personal Care & Hygiene Products

Express shipping is generally seen as 2-day delivery and quicker. ShipStation’s study found that only 49% of consumers expect it to be offered. And 37% expect to have to pay for this option.

The major reason to offer expedited shipping, though, is that it is often incorporated into gift buying. In ShipStation’s study, 76% percent of customers said they are more willing to pay for expedited shipping if it is as a gift for someone else. As we approach the holiday season, especially December’s procrastinators, offering expedited holiday shipping is a great way to increase cart conversions.

 

Related Content: [Webinar] Discover Q4’s Best-Kept Secrets

 

Ship Orders the Same Day They Are Placed

Whether you can offer expedited or free shipping or not is one thing. But, expeditiously shipping products out of the warehouse is a must. The sooner a customer receives their shipping confirmation email with the tracking link, the sooner they breathe a sigh of relief. Staying on top of order fulfillment can be challenging, but it leads to repeat customers. Offering free “Same-Day Shipping” is a great way to incentivize customers to shop with you. This doesn’t mean they’ll receive their order the same day they place it. It just simply means that you’ll ship out an order on the day it’s placed. Using a shipping software is a great way to stay on top of your order volume and keep them going out the door as quickly as they come in.

 

Returns Are Becoming a Selling Point

Returns are objectively unenjoyable for everyone involved—except the carrier. However, there is a lot of selling power in doing returns well. According to Allbusiness, 91 percent of customers factor return policies into their online shopping. During the holiday season, returns are more common. And a website that doesn’t offer returns, or offer them well, will likely be sidelined in favor of a company that has a good returns policy.

80% of customers expect to be able to return purchases for free. This can be difficult to offer—particularly if you offer free outbound shipments as well. This is certainly an area that express shipment is not necessary. If you can use cost-effective shipping options like First Class Mail or hybrid services (Surepost or Smartpost), do it.

 

What This All Means for Your Holiday Shipping

Holiday shipping demands can incur a rather nasty dent into e-commerce Q4 budgets if not properly understood ahead of time.

As customer demands shift and grow more towards express and free shipping, it’s important to protect your profit margins. While free shipping and easy returns can be costly, remember that these options are the new norm for many customers. And, unfortunately, if you can’t offer these shipping options to the customers, there’s likely someone else who can.

 

About the Author: ShipStation is the world’s leading web-based shipping solution that helps e-commerce retailers import, organize, and ship orders quickly and easily—wherever they sell, however they ship. ShipStation integrates with over 160 of the top marketplaces, selling channels, carriers, and fulfillment providers. Utilize features like auto-selecting shipping preferences, customizable automation rules, multi-carrier rate calculators and shipping, and much more.

 

How Changing Customer Expectations Impact Your Holiday Shipping

By | Blog, Fulfillment, Guest Author, Holiday

Each year, more customers pivot from brick and mortar stores to online shopping. As this overall volume increases, it’s only logical that holiday sales would also trend upwards. In fact, 2018 Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion in online sales, a growth of 23.6% year over year. Naturally, with increased online holiday shopping there is an increase in holiday shipping. And while there are more opportunities to attract more customers, this also makes for that much more competition. Understanding changing consumer demand is what makes you stand out among the competition and is your best shot at winning more sales and gaining repeat customers once the holiday season ends.

Read More