Holiday Checklist for Commerce Sites: Last Shipping Day

December 1, 2018 Holly Enneking

Have you ever thought about improving how you handle the last day of shipping before heading into the holidays, to give your customers a more seamless experience? Different retailers have different requirements for processing orders and utilize different default shipping methods, this date differs between sites which makes it confusing for customers. While the last shipping date is typically understood internally, often not enough is done to make sure the external customer fully understands this deadline and the options available. Here are some quick things that can be done in order to make your customers’ experiences better when it comes to this all-important date.

Clear Communication Onsite

Giving your customers clear understanding of your last shipping date in advance, will prevent frustrations in the future. Don’t wait until the last day or two to get the message out. Consider the appropriateness of placing an alert in the space within the header, a hero image on a carousel, and particularly predominant content on the cart and mini-cart. Over-communication of this date in places the customer is likely to see, will help remind them and minimize confusion about when they can last place their order.

Reminders and Encouragement

Targeted communications, particularly to loyal customers and customers with abandoned items in their cart, can be very useful as the last shipping date draws near. Further, if an incentive to complete checkout is provided alongside the communication, a customer is more likely to complete their order sooner. By encouraging a customer who may procrastinate to buy earlier, it can help smooth out the last minute rush and potentially keep a sale. Having a customer come back to the site too late for timely shipment would result in in a negative perception of your brand.

Functional Changes

Nothing is worse than not keeping a promise. First and foremost, the communicated date must be honored. If you don’t get that shipment out and a customer receives it late, they are unlikely to continue being a customer. Make sure all systems, integrations, and data feeds are running smoothly so nothing will delay the picking, packing and shipping process. Increasing the frequency of data feeds during the last couple days can help minimize the risk of missed orders.

While functional changes in the customer’s experience can be limited due to code freeze, there are configuration-related controls available. One configuration to consider is changing the default shipping method. When the date for standard shipping methods has passed, changing the default shipping method to an expedited two-day shipping or next day will allow customers to still receive items on time. Just make sure to clearly communicate this change. If an incentive around expedited shipping is offered simultaneously then the last minute shopper will remember how the site (and the brand) helped them out of their potential jam.

Misunderstandings resulting from inappropriate messaging can cause dissatisfaction, which can have a lasting effect on your brand. However, clear communication and a willingness to go the extra mile will create loyal customers, and should be top of mind a goal. The last shipping day can be used as an opportunity to create customer satisfaction and loyalty, if you are prepared.

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