From Thanksgiving, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, Christmas and Boxing Day, the fall and winter months bring out the shopper in almost everyone. That can be great for your business, as long as you’re ready to meet ever-rising customer expectations. To make the most of this year’s upcoming rush, start getting ready now. Here are 12 proven ways to meet demand head-on so that you can wrap up 2019 with healthy sales during the busiest shopping season of the year.

1. Plan now, adjust later.

Even if it involves a lot of guesswork, it pays to have a roadmap for navigating the busy season so that you can anticipate potential speed bumps before you hit them. Carve out time to project sales for fall and winter to see whether you’ll need to boost production, inventory, staff or other resources. Use sales from past years to give yourself a realistic sense of what this year’s sales might be. Prepare a contingency plan in the event of lower or higher than anticipated sales. Most importantly, revisit your plan regularly to see whether sales are in line with your projections. You’ll need to stay flexible about increasing or decreasing production or staffing, if the holiday shopping season proves to be slower or busier than you thought.

2. Fine-tune your website.

Now is the time to fix any shortfalls in your customers’ online shopping experience and to optimize your site to attract search engines. Data analytics can help you look at how your customers are engaging with your site, especially whether they are dropping out of the purchase funnel at checkout (a sure sign of a customer experience gone wrong). Remember, any major changes in your platform or site design should be completed and tested before the rush hits.

3. Get more ratings and reviews for your brand on social media.

The PWC 2019 Global Consumer Survey shows that customers are even more influenced by a brand’s presence and reputation on social media than by celebrity endorsements. Occasional posts and tweets don’t cut it when consumers are constantly checking for up-to-date reviews and recommendations before they buy. Incent fans of your brand to post positive reviews. Invest in a social media content writer to blog about your brand and boost your follows and likes. And be sure to keep your brand’s social media presence robust throughout the entire busy season.

4. Recruit extra help and train early.

Many small to medium-sized businesses need extra staff during the holiday shopping season to get through the rush, whether for order fulfillment, packaging products, taking customer calls or managing social media. They may be temporary but it’s crucial to recruit and train these workers ahead of time so that they get to know your systems and products inside and out. Make sure they join the team far enough in advance that they’re ready to hit the ground running during the rush.

5. Communicate with your customers.

They’re the first ones to identify a weak link you may need to fix, whether it’s a glitchy website, jammed phone lines, customer service issues or unfulfilled expectations around product availability and delivery times. Setting specific deadlines to order products “in time for the holidays” is a good way not only to manage expectations, but also to build momentum, excitement and a sense of urgency. And remember that if you do have an unavoidable delay in fulfillment, it’s best to be upfront with customers.

6. Locate your best sellers front and centre in your packing and shipping department.

You may already be able to anticipate which products are going to be the hottest sellers this season. Place them closest to workstations in your fulfillment warehouse where packagers can easily access them. It may only save minutes –– or seconds –– on fulfillment but over the course of a busy day, that time adds up.

7. Stock up on packing materials now.

With all your packing and shipping materials on site in advance, you’ll save time and avoid delays in fulfilling orders, especially if they start coming in early. You can order everything you need directly from Purolator.

8. Be ready to make the most of the last-minute rush.

Last-minute online shoppers are a big opportunity for you. Prepare your staff and inventory for a final surge in orders, especially right before the holidays.

9. Review refund policies early.

Customers care about the ease of making returns. Make sure your team and your customers understand return policies and processes by providing easy-to follow directions.

10. Boost employee morale.

Keep up your organization’s motivation and morale by celebrating your staff members’ varied holiday traditions, decorating for the holiday party, or even supporting a staff-chosen charity by matching donations.

11. Promote, promote, promote!

Sustain the momentum with hyper-targeted online advertising to ensure your products are showing up and top of mind for customers throughout the holidays and beyond.

12. Save time with convenient online shipping tools.

At Purolator, we can streamline the demands of the seasonal rush for you:

  • Online Shipping (Purolator E-Ship® Online)  is a convenient way to get all the services and documentation you need online, from creating shipping labels and customs documents, to scheduling pick-ups, tracking deliveries and more. It’s ideal for small to medium businesses sending under five shipments a day.
  • Purolator Shipping Notifications  notify you and your customer by email when your shipments have been created, delayed or delivered, and it’s easy to customize for your business.
  • Purolator Billing Centre  helps you save time managing and paying your shipping invoices.

At Purolator, we succeed when you do. If there’s anything we can do to help you make the most of the busiest time of year, just let us know. We’re always here for you. Be sure to visit our holiday planning section for more tips and info to keep you on top of your holiday shipping! In the meantime, check out our handy infographic below!

12 tips for stress free hoilday shipping infographic