For many independent retailers, the holiday season is the “make or break” time in terms of revenue. If they do not ship enough products throughout the holidays, then projections for annual sales and the potential for next year’s growth can be stunted. Consumers demand on-time delivery, and won’t accept any excuses from retailers who are overwhelmed by a rush of orders. Despite the challenges of providing quality shipping services, top retailers can succeed by implementing various initiatives, according to Jason Hodges, founder and president of Auctane LLC, a provider of cloud-based shipping solutions. Hodges, who has been building ecommerce software since 1996 for small and large retailers, suggests sellers consider implementing the following five strategies to ensure that their shipping processes run at peak efficiency during the busy holiday season.
1. Batch printing for more efficient shipping. Batch printing of labels is infinitely more efficient than printing them one at a time. Labels also can be customized to include order numbers, or SKUs, which allow shipping staff to better identify products.
2. Software solutions to consolidate orders. Retailers that rely on various channels for the distribution of products gain the benefit of reaching a wide net of customers, but they also introduce complexity into their shipping processes. Instead of keeping a login and password for each marketplace or shopping cart, some retailers are turning to software solutions that properly consolidate orders. Top software providers will feature tools that allow timely tracking and one-click labels for maximum efficiency.
3. Shipping deadlines are vital. Every year, major carriers announce their holiday shipping deadlines which provide retailers with set times for order drop off. Retail managers should hold meetings with staff members to ensure everyone is aware of these deadlines and how each of their actions affects the company’s ability to meet those deadlines.
4. Thermal printers for speed and ease of use. Thermal printers provide retailers with a clean and fast method of producing large volumes of barcodes and labels. While thermal printers might have a greater upfront cost than typical laser printers, the savings due to no ink cartridges and the device’s reliability make it a smart long-term choice.
5. USPS SCAN form for better tracking. The SCAN (Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice) form from the United States Postal Service puts shipments together under a single barcode. By consolidating the shipments together, tracking information can appear for all packages, allowing retailers to share tracking information more easily. Customers who wait until the last minute to order their holidays gifts will appreciate shipping confirmations. With the USPS SCAN form, all batched orders will appear as “Shipment Accepted” along with time and data markers.
For many retailers, the timely and efficient fulfillment of orders is of utmost importance to the viability of the entire business. At no time is quality shipping more important than during the holidays. Retailers that are proactive in setting up their shipping procedures will be best positioned to earn significant revenue and grow a base of satisfied customers.
Auctane’s premier solution, ShipStation, integrates with marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Sears, Etsy, and Buy.com as well as numerous shopping cart platforms to provide a seamless shipping process for online merchants.