The holidays are undoubtedly the most stressful time of year for most e-Commerce retailers. With this year’s short holiday shopping season stress levels are guaranteed to rise even higher. Last year’s undersized holiday season (one day shorter than this year) caught many eTailers and carriers off guard. As a result, the tight timelines, combined with weather delays and a high volume of record-breaking holiday sales to lead to thousands of late deliveries.Although many carriers and e-Commerce retailers scrambled to offer gift cards and refunds to angry shoppers – it was often to no avail. Shoppers vented about the late shipments and subsequent ruined holidays on social media channels, posting scathing reviews and vowing to never again shop with the unlucky eTailers.Despite the recurring compressed timeline and last season’s failures, the predictions for this year’s online holiday spending are rosy. Among others, Shop.org’s analysts announced a forecast for online sales to grow an estimated 8 to 11% during the 2014 holiday season. However, in order to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the inherent perils e-Commerce retailers must realize the importance of providing shoppers with a guarantee for both speed and accuracy in holiday order fulfillment. Their eCommerce shipping strategy must be ready for their holiday season.Your Reputation is On the Line Inaccurate order fulfillment or slow shipping may cause up to a third of your customers to never return to your site. Even worse, as shown in the examples linked below, unhappy e-Commerce shoppers frequently air their frustrations online – which can turn into a permanent and searchable black mark against your business. This is exactly what Rakuten Super Logistics is referring to when it comes to our commitment to protecting e-Commerce retailers’ reputations with fast and accurate order fulfillment. As our recent infographic illustrates, one unhappy customer can complain to 20 people or more. One of the blessings and curses of social media is the fact that, under the right unfortunate circumstances, one negative post can go viral and sour thousands of potential customers.If you handle your e-Commerce fulfillment in-house, you should have already made plans and preparations to create a process that ensures accurate order fulfillment during peak times. It is important to plan ahead and create a verified, expandable system, and remain focused during the holidays to prevent errors. With the expected stress and time constraints that the holidays are guaranteed to bring, busy eTailers who plan to ship more than 25 orders per day should consider outsourcing their fulfillment to a third party logistics provider. In addition, it is important to partner with a provider that can guarantee accurate orders and shipping within 24 hours. These guarantees will protect your reputation and ensure happy customers and repeat business.
Click on the image above for complete access to the infographic.The Clock is Already TickingWhen it comes to shipping, your customers want their items fast – and they don’t want to pay a lot. In fact, they prefer to pay nothing at all. With only 26 shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, a good eCommerce shipping strategy with fast delivery options will factor heavily in holiday sales. According to our infographic, nearly 60% of online shoppers have willingly increased their shopping cart totals in order to qualify for free shipping. Free shipping also makes shoppers a little more patient: over 80% stated they were willing to wait two additional days for their items if the shipping is free. Free shipping has become the expected norm, thanks to programs like Amazon Prime, and multichannel retailers who are able to offer options like in-store pick up for online purchases. When you tap into the Rakuten SL 2-Day Delivery Network you can realize cost savings that make free shipping a cost effective option that will help you compete with any online store and grow your business.When you factor in the tight timeline and your customers’ expectations for fast and free shipping, it is easy to understand how 2-Day eCommerce shipping strategy may make or break your holiday sales. In order to be competitive in the crowded online marketplace, you will need to ensure your shipping and delivery options sway your customer at the point of purchase. If you fail to meet your prospects’ expectations for speedy, low cost and accurate deliveries, you stand a high probability of losing that customer (and all their potential referrals) for life.