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Mastering Peak Season 2023: Strategies for Successful Shipping by Online Retailers

The pre-Christmas rush: Halloween, Singles Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Saint Nicholas Day (NL, BE, DE), and Christmas. For many online retailers, the peak season represents the most hectic time of the year. It’s a period when one shopping event seamlessly transitions into the next, and the overall goal is meeting customer demands while ensuring timely deliveries.

During peak season, companies can expect an increase in orders of 80 to 100 percent compared to the previous months. (Source: Shipcloud)

This surge in e-commerce orders, coupled with expected delivery bottlenecks at carriers, significantly impacts successful pre-Christmas shipping. To ensure a stress-free survival through this year’s Christmas shopping season, it’s crucial to identify potential bottlenecks in your online retail operations early on. To help you in preparing your shipping processes for the current conditions, we’ve compiled some valuable last-minute tips.

Pre-Christmas shipping: Rising shipping volumes in the peak season

The growth of online retail is a well-established trend. In the Peak Season 2023, the possibility of another surge in shipping volumes within e-commerce looms, though it remains uncertain. In 2020, there was already an additional 11 percent increase in volume, even though online retail had already shattered previous records the year before (source: MetaPack, 2021, Delivery Trends in Peak Season 2021). Furthermore, the current context of inflation and an energy crisis has heightened consumer interest in cost-saving measures. This creates an intriguing dynamic: while another successful peak season spells good news for online retailers, it also carries inherent risks.

🌱  Did you know? Don’t forget about Singles Day, which happens every November 11th. During this year’s shopping spree, consumers are putting extra emphasis on mindful shopping and sustainability, not just in what they buy, but also in how it gets to their doorstep.

Peak Season 2023: An overview of the shopping events

The Peak Season begins on October 31, 2023, with Halloween, and ends with Christmas Eve on December 24, 2023. Due to Cyber Week and the Christmas business, customers will certainly drive up the sales of individual online stores once again. Other shopping events are also among the peak days:

Peak Season 2023

Online retailers - prepare for peak season

During peak season, carriers find themselves handling roughly three times the volume of packages compared to the rest of the year. Consequently, both online retailers and shipping service providers must take proactive measures to avoid delivery delays.

🚛  Tip: Given the concerns among consumers about potential delays and the possibility of certain gifts becoming unavailable for purchase this year due to global delivery bottlenecks, it’s anticipated that the surge in shipping volume may start a bit earlier than usual this year.

Preventing Shipping Delays in Peak Season

To proactively prevent issues, pay special attention to ensuring your packages are handed over to the carrier accurately and in advance:

  • Ensure correct dimensions and weights.
  • Double-check addressing and packaging for accuracy.

Even a small error in the address data can lead to problems and ensure that a package does not reach its recipient on time. Therefore, always check your orders carefully.

🔎 Tip: Find out about any special packaging requirements at an early stage. This proactive approach will save you both time and effort.

Packaging guidelines of the shipping service providers:

Optimal shipping during peak season

Successful online retailers understand the importance of a wide range of carriers, especially during the stressful Christmas season. This precautionary measure helps mitigate the risk of delays, order cancellations, and, in the worst-case scenario, labor strikes. Depending solely on one parcel service can lead to a complete halt in your operations.

📦  Did you know? Approximately one-third of customers would consider switching retailers following a poor delivery experience. Our multi-carrier shipping solution seamlessly connects you to all pertinent carriers, providing a safeguard against potential risks. In the event of issues, you can swiftly switch to an alternative parcel service, ensuring you maintain full flexibility. This approach allows you to offer your customers a wide array of shipping options alongside your extensive product selection.

Shipping by Christmas: Expand delivery options

Your customers’ expectations and demands are continually growing, particularly during the peak season. So, why not earn extra points by offering additional services?

Most carriers already offer many additional services to make parcel delivery even more convenient – for you and your customers. Especially during the Christmas season, it is very important to customers that their parcels arrive safely and especially on time.

Most carriers already offer many additional services to enhance parcel delivery convenience—for both you and your customers. Especially during the Christmas season, it is very important to customers that their parcels arrive safely and especially on time.

Here are some of the valuable additional services offered by several carriers:

  • Delivery of Choice: Options like DPD, Hermes, and UPS provide customers with complete flexibility and assurance that their delivery will be received at a time of their choosing.
  • Insured Shipping: The significance of insured shipping grows, especially during the Christmas season when the increased volume of deliveries can lead to higher loss rates.

Tip: Alongside insured shipping, consider offering redelivery or other customer-friendly solutions for lost deliveries.

  • Parcel Notifications: Recipients tend to open parcel notifications almost 100 percent of the time, even when deliveries are on schedule. Customized shipment information enhances the overall buying experience. Providers like GLS, DPD, Hermes, DHL, and UPS offer this service through UPS My Choice, for instance.
    Tip: Keep your customers informed directly, even in the event of delivery delays.
  • Parcel Shop Deliveries, Lockers, Ship from Store, and Click & Collect: These delivery options are expected to see increased demand during Peak Season 2023. As life increasingly happens away from home, these alternatives reassure customers that they won’t miss a package delivery.
  • Express Shipping: Services like DHL Express, UPS, DPD, TNT, and GO! offer express shipping—an especially relevant choice for customers who tend to leave their Christmas shopping until the last minute.

🚀 Did you know? You can access many of these services through the Shipcloud connection. Since gifts are sent not only within the country but also internationally, we offer the option of fast and reliable international shipping with the flexibility of selecting the desired delivery day.

Until when can packages be delivered?

Be sure to inform your customers in advance when shipping must take place by Christmas to ensure successful delivery. It’s essential to not only monitor your processes but also those of the carriers. Incorporate the specific schedules of parcel services into your Christmas planning to proactively avoid any potential issues.

💡 Tip: As usual, we will inform you about the detailed delivery times of the carriers in our Help Center.

Adapting returns processes for peak season

Returns are an inevitable part of a Peak Season and are also likely to reach record levels in 2023. That’s why it’s imperative to consider successful returns management as an integral part of the overall shopping experience. The goal is twofold: minimize returns when possible and streamline the return process for your customers, resulting in benefits for both parties.

Tip: Consider extending your return window, especially during Cyber Week and the Christmas shopping season. Longer return periods can reduce the number of returns and discourage purchase cancellations. Research indicates that when the return deadline is under 30 days, approximately 40 percent of shoppers are more likely to abandon their purchase. 

🙌  Want to learn more about successful returns management? We show you all the strategies for the ideal returns process in our whitepaper. Download the whitepaper for free!

Download Whitepaper

Pre-Christmas shipping: Anything is possible during peak season

Be prepared for anything, but don’t let it get you down! The upcoming holiday shopping season will be unique and full of challenges, so anticipate hurdles and equip yourself to the best of your abilities. This way you will get through this year’s peak season relaxed.

📦  Want to learn more? By optimizing your shipping processes in general, you’ll be well prepared not only during peak season but also throughout the year. Contact our shipping specialists and we tell you everything you need for an automated shipping process – for a successful online store and satisfied customers.

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