How to Deal with Unpredictable Shipping This Holiday Season

By Paul Terry

December 10, 2020


This year the pandemic has pushed more shoppers to buy online for everything from basic household goods to luxury items. This is magnified this holiday season, with Black Friday online shopping up 22% from last year. This has put a strain on shipping providers, with unprecedented volumes of mail, new safety procedures, and pressure to get everything delivered on time. However, this leads to pressure on brands, whose customers hold responsible for timely delivery. So, this month when people are ordering at such a high volume and expect everything delivered by December 24th, what can you do to optimize your site to ensure customer satisfaction?

It’s all about setting expectations

Shipping times are largely out of your control, but setting customer expectations is entirely within your control. The best thing you can do to ensure customer satisfaction is to make sure your shoppers know what they’re getting. Are you able to offer next-day shipping? Make that clear on the product detail page. Have you needed to update your shipping prices based on your carrier? Make those options prominent in your checkout options.

And, if you’re not sure what shipping is going to look like, communicate that to your customers. Some examples from around the internet include:

The most important thing to remember is not to over promise and under deliver. So, if you can make a promise, make it prominent. If you can’t, communicate that upfront and clearly.

Promote Alternative Options

Because shipping is less predictable than ever this year and in-store shopping is limited, now is the time to get creative and promote other options on your site. Services like curbside pickup or buy online, pick up in store are great choices now if you’re able to offer them. However, these options may also require more sophisticated inventory tracking and dynamic messaging based on items in stock at each store location.

If you have the ability, you can optimize your site for the pick up in store experience in a few ways. Personalization using geolocation is a great way to help customers find the store closest to them (or the store closest to them with the item in stock). If you do this, you can include messaging on the product detail page or in the cart that lets the customer know they have choices around when and how they will receive their item. You can also update your messaging based on the date. As we get closer to Christmas, you may want to make your pick up in store messaging bigger and more prominent, since delivery on time is less likely to be guaranteed.

This time of year is always both exciting and stressful, both for you and your customers. Add this year’s challenges and you’ve got a season like never before. It’s not too late to employ some of these strategies to help you and your customers have a smoother and more successful season.

To learn more about SiteSpect, visit our website.


Paul Terry

Paul Terry

Paul Terry is a SiteSpect Consultant in Customer Support, guiding SiteSpect users on the road to optimization. He has over 15 years experience in optimization, testing, and personalization. He is based in Duluth, Georgia.

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