It’s the most wonderful time of the year but along with the festivities, online retailers are bracing themselves for peak season.

With next day now an expected delivery option, each year shoppers confidently place orders closer to Christmas Day. However, alongside this comes stress and disappointment if carefully chosen Christmas gifts don’t arrive on time. Whilst this is not always at the fault of the retailer, consumers often do blame retailers, which then plays a major role in whether they choose to buy from a particular retailer again.

How can you manage expectations and keep customers happy, so they keep coming back to buy throughout the New Year?

Offer Delivery Choice

We know that customers want choice, and offering that choice is even more important when it comes to Christmas. Customers want to be able to get a package at a certain time or pick up from a place convenient for them to ensure they have presents ready for when they need them. Giving them this choice helps them feel in control, which at a stressful time for consumers makes their customer experience even better.

Offering a range of delivery methods and dates also means you are able to spread the demand across numerous carriers, which offers better contingency and enables more planning rather than stretching the traditional delivery model to breaking point. By giving customers the choice of a time or pick up from a different location, you also increase first-time delivery success, minimising the need for re-delivery attempts and taking the strain away from the carriers.

Managing Expectations on Last Minute Orders

Managing expectations is really important for online retailers. It’s important to have a set date for the last orders so that you can guarantee that parcels will reach them by Christmas. This should be made very clear on your website so it’s immediately visible on all pages, and also reiterated when people select delivery options in the checkout.

Being upfront about delivery lead times ensures that you don’t disappoint customers and lose their future custom. Communicating it via a countdown on the website also highlights urgency pushing them to straight away rather than thinking about it and coming back at a later date.

It’s important not to over promise. Even if you can’t deliver on time or can’t offer fast delivery, its important to be clear rather than letting customers down at the and damaging your reputation.

Maximise Your Efficiency

Increasing your internal efficiency is important to ensure your fulfilment operation doesn’t get snowed under when it gets to crunch time. Your despatch technology needs to be agile so that you can scale up and down based on fluctuating demand during the busy season. Make sure you have the resources and capacity in place to handle increased demand, so that peak runs as smoothly as possible, with minimal stress or risk.

Prepare For The Unexpected

Even with all the planning, there are things that can go wrong over Christmas at the last minute. Goods might not arrive on time, carriers can run over capacity, or bad weather can strike.

Make sure your customer service strategy is ready to handle the queries and demands of your customers. Keep customers informed and updated along the process to ensure they are kept happy even while waiting.

GFS can help you at peak times like Christmas through integrated technology that covers everything from point of sale to delivery and back again. Whether it’s adding delivery options for our customer, or handling problems with specific carriers that let you down, GFS can help with it all. Contact us now to start your journey to easier peak times with GFS.