E-commerce sales are on the rise. Outwit your competitors by implementing advanced date shopping.

Retail customers are buying more online, increasing the number of shipments being carried out each year. In fact, in 2016, peak e-commerce volumes soared 39% higher than 2015 levels. With 64% of abandoned carts blamed on shipping-related woes, optimizing shipping should be a priority for retailers now and moving forward. Our advice?

Start Planning for Peak Season Now

During the critical holiday shopping season, retailers are focused on the total customer experience, from websites, ordering, payments, fulfillment and packaging, to customer service and the all-important shipment and delivery. When it comes to shipping and delivery, providing a great customer experience requires speed, accuracy and on-time performance, all at a competitive cost.

Now is the time for retailers to start planning and preparing for the peak season ahead. Retailers should ensure they are using the latest version of carrier software to prevent any known glitches that could cause systems to be down. If internal shipping processes have changed since last year, new processes should be stress-tested by simulating peak volumes. Finally, ensuring that the company’s shipping software is compliant with all of the carriers it uses can eliminate costly and frustrating delays.

Take Advantage of Special Conditions Offered by Carriers

Most carriers offer special conditions during peak times to help retailers – and themselves – meet customer expectations for on-time deliveries, while also saving time and money. These special arrangements can include:

  • Adding extra trailers
  • Expanding delivery times, such as adding Saturday and Sunday deliveries
  • Extending shipping times, such as adding extra hours to pick-up times at the beginning or end of the day

The goal for carriers is to move packages faster and earlier in order to spread the load and deliver packages when customers expect them. Retailers need to be in constant communication with their shipping carriers so they are not only aware of all the special arrangements available during high-volume periods, but can take advantage of them.

However, with multiple shipping carriers, each with their own special conditions, the challenge for many retailers is organizing these additional services, using them and maintaining accurate shipping information for each delivery. Unique to ProShip shipping software is a feature called “advanced date shopping*.” This feature helps retailers manage the special conditions that impact their shipments.

Advanced Date Shopping

Advanced date shopping* allows retailers to optimize the information from their carriers to provide the on-time delivery that is such a critical part of the total e-commerce experience.

For instance, if a package needs to be delivered from New York to California by December 20th, the order can be shipped the week before, allowing ground service to be used for the five-day shipment.

The retailer and consumer both save on shipping costs while ensuring satisfaction during the busiest times of the year.

Here’s how it works: retailers input the holiday schedules, special conditions, expanded timeframes, rates and other information from each of their carriers into ProShip software. The software maintains all the information and handles the complexity of all the dates and special conditions to select the best shipping option and generate an accurate delivery date for each shipment.

In addition to on-time deliveries, another benefit for retailers is the ability to leverage the special conditions of their carriers to save money and create special customer promotions that can help drive sales.

For example, if a carrier offers two-day shipping at the same cost as three-day shipping, retailers can offer a promotion to customers that gets their packages to them faster without any additional cost. The special promotion can encourage customers to purchase before the promotion ends, resulting in orders being shipped earlier and reducing some of the last-minute rush.

If the carrier extends the deadline for same-day orders from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., customers have extra time to get their orders in for the delivery date they want, again at no added cost to the retailer.

If the retailer knows shipments with a certain carrier will go out earlier than normal or the carrier has added extra trucks, they can select a lower-cost service that takes a little more time, knowing the package will still arrive when the customer expects it.

The software also enables retailers to keep their customers informed about shipping status and provide accurate information on when they can expect to receive their package, which is a critical element for customer service personnel and in maximizing customer satisfaction.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

Advanced date shopping* features are being developed in response to some of the world’s largest retailers who saw the need for this functionality as their shipping volumes continue to increase.

The key for all retailers is to be aware of all the special carrier options available to them during the busy holiday season and to use them to achieve accurate delivery times and better manage their workload and budget. Some customers want their order just in time to wrap it and place it under the tree, while others want their purchases earlier so they can shop a special sale or ship them to family and friends in other areas. Whatever your customers’ plans are, one thing is certain: they want their package on the day they expect to receive it, or as a pleasant surprise, even earlier.

For retailers who use multi-carrier shipping software with advanced date shopping, the holiday volumes that may have caused chaos in the past can be handled more smoothly and efficiently during peak season and beyond.