As if Christmas trees out with fake jack-o-lanterns weren't clue enough, retailers are doing everything they can to get a jump on this year's holiday shopping season, and with good reason. According to ShippingEasy's Holiday Shipping Guide, 56.6% of consumers started holiday shopping by early November. Although having products available to consumers sooner is a good start, ShippingEasy says there's a lot more you can do to maximize holiday sales.

Delivery

Customers are typically most concerned with shipping costs. Consider providing free or discounted shipping

  • on entire orders.
  • on certain items.
  • when the order total reaches a certain threshold.
  • when the buyer puts in an order on a certain day.

Returns

Understanding that not all buys go perfectly,

  • Consider extending how long you'll accept returns on holiday purchases.
  • Offer the option of a higher in-store credit instead of equal value cash return to encourage buyers to shop with you again.
  • Slip in written or verbal information about upcoming sales or deals.
  • Use return information to make a plan for what you'll promote next season, or to modify the return policy you currently have to minimize loss.

Marketing

Ramp up with with these quick-win tactics

  • Target gift recipients by including promotional materials in the packing slips.
  • Each time you update or follow-up with customers, include upcoming sales or highlight products you think they'd be interested in.
  • Put your brand on everything from inserts to shipping boxes.

Katie May, CEO of ShippingEasy further explained,

"With the full-swing of e-commerce ready to begin, now is the last opportunity to set up strategies that will ensure a successful holiday season. On-time, or even advanced delivery is the number-two goal after maximizing sales. Preparing for efficient order turnaround with the right supplies, staff and processes will quickly give way to seamless returns and special promotions to set your store up for success in 2017. The holidays are a great opportunity for a step change in sales, operations, and new year planning."

In addition to these strategies, keep in mind that holiday shopping generally means a higher sales volume. Think about this critically in terms of inventory space, whether your shipping partner can handle more orders and how the boost influences your supply chain.

After all the hubbub is over, don't drop the ball. Nail down the logistics of how you are going to bring in new merchandise while moving unsold holiday items through closeout sales at the same time. Follow up with consumers about wish list items they didn't buy, as well. Do all that and you'll likely bring a whole lot of cheer to your bottom line.