Get your ecommerce strategy up to scratch with this small business Christmas checklist

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The bells are jingling, the halls are decked and we are officially heading down the home stretch for Christmas. As customers head online to finish their shopping, we have entered into what may be the busiest time of the year for many small businesses and retailers.

With major retailers and the recently launched global giant Amazon promising significant improvements to parcel delivery, this year, in particular, will see an increase in shopper expectations throughout the Christmas period.

For small businesses and retailers wishing to compete in the new-age of online shopping, preparation is paramount, and it will be crucial to have a Christmas strategy in place. Consider the following:

What’s your shipping backup plan?

There is a saying about best-laid plans, and sometimes no matter how well you prepare, things just go wrong. Christmas, in particular, is different from any other business period, so it’s best not to put all your eggs (or parcels!) in one basket. Christmas is a huge time for postal networks and it’s not unusual for systems to be overloaded, so best practice is to have a shipping plan B ready where you can sign up and start sending in less than a minute.

It’s the reputation of your business at stake, so it’s important to ensure that a delivery arrives as promised. Over the Christmas period, carriers like Sendle, ensure that there are extra staff on the ground to make sure pickups aren’t missed.

Increase sales with free shipping

Consider decking your online store out for Christmas, with holiday-focused policies and offers. Complimentary gift wrapping or shipping can go a long way to boosting sales over the Christmas period. In fact, 69 per cent of shoppers are more likely to buy from online stores that offer free shipping.1

Get your timing right.

Researching the different cut-off dates for various carriers – as well as the factors like weather that play a part – and communicating these clearly with customers will help to avoid any last-minute disappointment. You can ensure customer satisfaction by clearly outlining ‘final-order’ dates and delivery procedures as part of your holiday offers.

Triple-check the shipping details

Make sure you are on the front foot when it comes to making sure that your parcels reach the correct destination. A whopping 1 in 5 Australian addresses have errors, so it’s important to double-check every address that comes through, and if in doubt, double check with the buyer.

Sometimes you simply don’t have the time to manually check each address, in which case you’ll find that some carriers have inbuilt address validation within their systems to make sure that any errors are picked up immediately.

Streamline your processes

Given it’s a busy period, think about ways you can work ahead and simplify your day. Something as simple as pre-packing your top-selling items can help to speed up the time between the customer placing the order and the order being shipped.

You can also save several hours a week in productivity by investing in a label printer, instead of a regular office printer.

it will be crucial to have a Christmas strategy in place

Think ahead to next season

As busy as you may be, it’s important to consider and make note of what did or didn’t work for your business over the Christmas period. Taking the time to collate your insights – from unsold products to shipping delays or carrier performance issues – from 2017 will help you to prepare for success in 2018.

Most retailers understand that success throughout the Christmas period doesn’t just ‘happen’. It can take planning and preparation over several months to successfully meet the Christmas rush. The key is to keep things as simple as possible – for customers, staff and for yourself. By implementing these strategies and ensuring that both your product and your shipping standards meet customer expectations, you’ll watch as your sales over the Christmas period increase steadily.

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James Moody
James Chin Moody is co-founder and CEO of Sendle, Australia's highest rated courier service that helps small business thrive through parcel delivery that's simple, reliable and affordable.  Established in 2014, Sendle is Australia's first technology B Corporation and 100% carbon neutral delivery service. The company was recently named Best Courier at the 2017 Product Review Awards.

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