Shipwire Tips for increased 2010 holiday sales
Marketwire, August 17, 2010
Savvy Online Retailers Can Benefit From Straightforward Tips Now to Ensure a Successful Holiday Season
Palo Alto, CA— July 30, 2010 Enjoying summertime’s barbecues, beaches and blazing sun are top priorities in the middle of August, but what many online sellers forget to consider is that the holiday season and accompanying e-tail rush is now upon us. In fact, 44 percent of consumers have already begun their holiday shopping, opting not to wait for the traditional after-Thanksgiving shopping mall “maul.” Given this new trend, e-tailers should take note of Shipwire’s simple tips to not only help prepare them for these early shoppers, but also keep customers coming back for more.
Shipwire, the leader in e-commerce online order fulfillment services, wants to ensure that entrepreneurs and small business e-tailers have a comprehensive holiday marketing plan in place that will empower their success leading into and throughout the holiday season. From leveraging social media to drive sales to successfully handling order fulfillment and returns, Shipwire offers tips to help SMBs make the most of this holiday season:
1. Map out the season. Treat the holiday season like a six-month campaign. Map out upcoming hot dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day and use them as an excuse to sprinkle in creative promotions. Look at past years and target dates to ensure you have extra personnel on hand and outsourced shipping resources lined up for any high-volume shipping.
2. Audit your e-commerce infrastructure. Before the end of September, ensure the best tools are in place for a big push. Examine your technology (especially your shopping cart and order inventory management) and processes to make sure you are ready to process orders through the holidays.
3. The early bird really does get the worm. Every year it seems the holiday shopping season starts earlier. It’s never too early to start the season by reaching out to your past customers and offering discounts for those who buy ahead. Repeat customers should be rewarded for their loyalty!
4. Gifts: Everyone loves them. Promotions are a great way to thank customers and ensure referrals. Consider offering free or reduced shipping, discount coupon codes, or special offers targeted to select audiences like past buyers or Twitter followers. Consider a free sample insert in every box you ship this holiday season.
5. Join the 21st Century. Leverage social media to dial into your customers” lives on Twitter and Facebook. By using Twitter, for example, you can monitor customer feedback and provide responses in real time. Furthermore, these tools not only help you tap into past and present customers, but potentially an entire network of thousands of future customers.
6. Fine-tune your Web site. Before the holiday shopping onslaught, spend some time search-optimizing your best sellers with promotional free shipping offers and price testing. Knowing your traffic and conversion will provide insight into what works on your site and what doesn’t. And if you syndicate product listings through marketplaces, make sure your pricing is consistent.
7. Check your checkout, and automate returns. Customers expect a hassle-free shopping experience, which means that the checkout process had better be streamlined, and your return policy seamless and straightforward. Make sure your customers are not unpleasantly surprised by overpriced shipping costs or limited checkout payment options, or you may find a spike in abandoned carts. Use the after-checkout time as an opportunity to up-sell, cross-sell or offer coupons on next purchases. Also, use any product return experiences as an opportunity to grow your customer loyalty.
8. Your shipping options should scream “fast and free” to attract buyers. Shipping options are a strong conversion tool. Learn to use them without breaking the bank. Consider using a free shipping promotion or upgraded shipping with larger purchases, and house a few best sellers overseas to offer international buyers local shipping costs. Storing your best-selling products in the local market by using a local overseas outsourced product fulfillment warehouse service can cut your international shipping costs by 75 percent and help you reach overseas buyers.
9. Insert some love, win repeat business. Be creative with your marketing package insert collateral in every shipment. Upon opening a package, your customers will be thrilled to receive both the products they ordered and a promotion such as discount codes for repeat customers and announcements on new features, products and services. Make sure you bring your happy buyers back.
10. Put a bow on it. Start at the source and think about how product packaging design can impact shipping. If you choose to sell the product online or through multiple distributors, you will need to think about size, weight and packaging. Package for maximum shipability and label with care.
11. Bonus Tip: Be prepared for impulse buys. A recent survey conducted by Shipwire on trends and shipping in e-commerce (2008-2009) shows that while merchants shipped 26 percent more product during the holidays, they sold a smaller amount to each buyer in more orders. This would seem to indicate that online impulse buys are on the rise, so e-tailers should be ready with enough product on hand and reliable, cost-effective shipping resources available. Make a good impression on customers who initially buy on a “whim.” They”ll be back for seconds.
For more information on preparing for the holiday season, check out the Increase Holiday Sales microsite at: http://www.shipwire.com/holiday
Visit the Shipwire blog for more details on these tips, to get more hot tips on e-commerce order fulfillment services, and all things logistics-related at: http://www.shipwire.com/blog
 “Prepping for the 2010 Holiday Season,” Google Retail Advertising Blog, June 8, 2010.
 “Shipwire Report Reveals Uptick in Small Business Overseas Growth,” May 3, 2010
About Shipwire (http://www.shipwire.com)
Shipwire, the leader in business fulfillment services, effectively eliminates the hassle of storage and shipping for growing merchants with a global warehouse network and its innovative Store-Sell-Ship™ platform. Shipwire’s warehouses — in Los Angeles, Reno, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver and London — are conveniently located close to buyers, drastically reducing merchants” shipping costs. Shipwire is the only warehouse logistics service that instantly integrates with shopping carts and order inventory management software system. Shipwire is developer- and partner-friendly; learn more about our shipping affiliate partner program or get our how to outsource order fulfillment guide at http://www.shipwire.com/partners. Print online USPS rates postage. For a free trial or more information, contact 1-888-SHIPWIRE or visit http://www.shipwire.com/trial.