Preparing for the peak shipping season and finding the right shipping partner will help you deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Canadian consumers have embraced online shopping, driving retailers to improve their digital presence and add online stores.

Your customers are likely spending significant time online shopping, and as the busy holiday season approaches, browsing will turn to buying. Retailers prepared for the season will capture more market share than those hoping to welcome shoppers to brick-and-mortar locations.

To meet customer demand for online shopping and their expectations for how quickly their purchases will arrive at their door, retailers need to offer exceptional delivery service and convenient shipping options.

The challenge? The busy holiday shopping season is also peak shipping season. This convergence means retailers committed to creating positive customer experiences need to make strategic preparations.

E-commerce is still winning consumer favour

In recent years, businesses began offering online sales to help protect themselves during retail closures and challenging sales cycles. However, the trend toward researching and making purchases online shows no signs of slowing down.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada are expected to total over $100 billion this year, with online purchases — including mobile — making up 11.5 per cent of retail spending.

Consistent demand for online shopping and reliable shipping methods means you must get your packages into the hands of your customers swiftly and securely.

With peak shipping season approaching, retailers must prepare for a rush of online orders that will need to be filled and shipped securely to customers.

What is peak shipping season?

Different markets will experience increased demand in the fall and the holiday season, though the exact dates can vary. There’s a combination of factors that make this a busy time, from back-to-school and holiday sales to retailers ordering vast amounts of product.

Peak shipping season can run from August or October until the new year, driving up costs and booking delivery companies up to capacity. Logistics can get tricky, and delayed shipments are not uncommon at any point in supply chains.

What does this mean for online retailers? You won’t just be competing with other businesses for sales, you’ll be competing to get packages to your customers in a swift and reliable way. Both can boost or hurt your reputation with your customer base.

You’ll need all your merchandise ready to sell and ship, as well as a solid plan for how you’ll meet and surpass customer expectations during this busy time. As soon as your customers purchase online, they’ll want to know their shipping options, the cost and how you’ll ensure their packages are delivered safely.

Proper preparation is key to ensuring you’re ready for the season ahead. You’ll want to have planned out your costs, customer rates and packaging materials. You will also need to put a solid shipping solution in place before things get busy.

6 essential strategies to help you navigate peak shipping season

Retailers used to prepare for the holiday season by stocking shelves and creating beautiful holiday displays to welcome customers into their stores. For some, these are still important elements to have in place for the busiest season of the year.

However, the numbers show that people still want to shop online and will do so for many purchases over the next three months.

Being prepared can help you stand out from competitors and pull in as much revenue as possible between now and January.

1.     Adapt your marketing calendar

Getting merchandise into your store to sell is critical but won’t be enough to thrive as customers begin their holiday shopping. You must be prepared for your online shoppers as early as possible, which means getting products into your inventory system and onto your website so they can easily be purchased.

Consider the timing of your marketing campaigns and compare them to realistic shipping estimates. For example, if a customer were to make purchases based on your marketing, would they receive their packages in time? You may want to adjust your promotions to ensure that customers can react, complete purchases and have some cushion for shipping.

2.     Explore different packaging options

Being prepared for peak shipping season also means deciding in advance how you’ll safely package your goods for transit and ensuring you have enough materials on hand to do so. Check with your shipping company to see if different packaging options affect the cost or speed of delivery.

If you can’t order or store all your packaging supplies at the beginning of the season, check to be sure you have a reliable local backup plan in case you cannot restock what you need.

3.     Estimate shipping costs

You’ll need to explore how much shipping will cost and how you’ll price it for your customers. You can choose a flat rate or charge by package size or weight.

Try to compare a few examples to come up with the most appealing way to offer shipping in a straightforward and stress-free way for you and your customer. The more simple and transparent you can make your shipping charges, the more likely it is your customer will decide to make a purchase and return another time.

4.     Offer a range of shipping options

Not only should you be selling online and offering shipping, but it’s wise to offer a range of shipping options to ensure your customers can choose what’s most convenient.

Expect that many will want same or next-day delivery and be willing to pay for it. If you do what you can to accommodate them, you will likely keep that sale over a competitor who can’t meet that expectation.

5.     Order and ship early

When you know a rush season is coming, protect your business by ordering what you need early. This includes merchandise, packaging supplies and any other necessities you need to run your business through the holiday season.

With that in mind, do what you can to encourage your customers to ship early. Include shipping reminders in your marketing messaging and remind people of shipping deadlines.

6.     Increase communication

One of the best ways to ward off confusion and disappointment in business is to communicate clearly with all parties involved. Speak to your suppliers to ensure you stay current on timing, delays and any other complications that may arise. Be sure your online shop shows shoppers when items are out of stock.

Proactively communicate with customers so they know what to expect. You may not be able to guarantee perfect deliveries during peak shipping season, but your customers should be able to trust you to be responsive and work to solve any problems that arise.

What to look for in a shipping solution for your business

Look for a trustworthy shipping partner to handle all your deliveries. That way, you can more accurately estimate shipping costs and keep packages flowing out the door as quickly as possible.

When choosing a partner for package deliveries at this time of year, look for the following:

  • An established track record of reliable shipping service;
  • Technology solutions in place to increase efficiency;
  • Tracking capabilities to help you manage customer expectations;
  • Capacity to deliver to your entire service area;
  • An efficient team of delivery agents to complete your deliveries;
  • Proof of delivery to ensure accuracy;
  • Seven-days-a-week service to increase speed and convenience; and
  • An easy-to-use dashboard to keep you informed.

Having a reliable partner to handle your shipping during the busiest retail season of the year is essential to driving sales and keeping your customers happy.

Postmedia Parcel Services offers comprehensive and reliable eCommerce and retail delivery for businesses across Canada. With cutting-edge technology, we provide fast and efficient delivery services, keeping customers informed throughout the process. As a division of Postmedia, one of Canada’s largest media networks, we have the expertise to ensure your parcel reaches doorsteps nationwide. If you’re a mid-to-large business in need of a dependable shipping solution, let Postmedia Parcel Services assist you. Our experienced and punctual preparation takes care of all your distribution needs, even during peak season times.