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eCommerce checklist: Preparing your store for the holidays

From chatbots and thank yous to label makers and good tape, it helps to prepare for the most busiest time of the year (for online retailers).

The onslaught of retail demand around the holidays can often catch small businesses out. We don't want you snoozing through Christmas dinner because you’ve been up all night packing late.

So before you batten down the hatches and coax your bestie over to pack shipments with you, make sure you’ve given yourself all the tools to get things done as smoothly as possible.

We recommend thinking about these things as early as October. As they say, the early elf gets the sale! (I know, nobody says that)

Quality tape guns

Sounds simple, but tape guns make packing your orders up much much smoother.

Splurge on a high-quality tape gun, and some robust packing tape, and your investment will pay off in extra time and secure sending for years to come.

They’re also fully tax-deductible (and good for hindering the resident chatterbox).

Quality tape guns

 

A trusty label printer

Never attempt a holiday rush without one.

These shave seconds off every order and will make a massive difference during a big rush.

If you want to estimate the time savings, just take the number of orders you expect to process and multiply that by, say, 25 seconds.

It adds up quick!

Label printer
 
 

Send it with Sendle

 
 

Batch printing capability

Rather than print each order as it comes in, save yourself a lot of time by printing them all at once with batch printing.

If you’re getting a flood of orders every day, pick a few times throughout your packing session where you stop, print out a stack of labels, and apply them.

That could also be a good time for a quick dance around the house to save your back!

Don’t know how to batch print? With Sendle, it’s easy. Check out our batch printing guide (for AU and for the US).

Packing materials

 

A chatbot

These are helpful for larger businesses needing to handle an onslaught of customer queries.

If you’re finding there are times of the day when you, or your team, can’t answer all questions quickly enough, a chatbot could offer some much-needed relief.

They are automated, provide 24/7 support, and save you having to pay an employee.

A solid chatbot also keeps customers from buying elsewhere and can offer a good customer experience.

That said, chatbots are only ever as good as the code that made them, so make sure you’ve programmed yours with as much data as possible.

Chatbot

 

Some temporary staff

If your business needs the human touch or you need an extra pair of hands for picking and packing, get some help!

If you know you’ll be busy, don’t try and do everything alone. You might end up disappointing yourself and your customers.

A temporary staff member can also give you the opportunity to fully absorb how your processes are holding up during the holiday rush.

It’s worth the expense, so you as the business owner can have some space to learn and oversee things as well.

Temporary staff

 

A reliable sales forecast

If you’ve been through a Christmas before, look over your sales history, make a note of what sold well, and ensure you have plenty of those in stock.

Turning down customers because you’ve sold out is heartbreaking!

It’s also worth pre-packing your bestsellers. Spend a few afternoons pre-packing some products so all you have to do is slap on a label.

Sales forecast

 

Stock up on those packing materials

There’s nothing worse than discovering, mid-packing frenzy, that you’re out of tape or your bubble wrap roll is finished.

Before the season gets into full swing, make a note of every step in your packing process, from tissue paper, to thank you cards, to packing peanuts, to late night chocolate covered coffee beans, and stock up.

You can always go the sustainable route, in which case, you should check out our big guide to sustainable packaging.

Packing materials

 

Dedicated shipping pages and FAQs

Help customers help themselves by providing them information on shipping times and other questions on your site.

Include basic details such as your shipping and return policies and how your customer can track their package, as well as specific Christmas information like delivery cut-off dates and sales.

A high-quality shipping page can free up you and your staff for complex or unique queries.

Plus, making their experience as easy as possible is key to keeping customers and increasing sales.

Shipping pages

 

An international shipping option

No one wants to lug gifts from home when they head overseas for Christmas, especially since nearly 50% of Australians have a parent from overseas.

If you don’t already offer it, maybe add international shipping to your store. That way you can reach those global markets and increase your customer pool.

Check out our guide to going global.

Note: We do not yet offer international shipping in the US, but we're working on it!

International shipping option

 

Lots of payment options

Help people slip through the checkout with a few different payment options, like PayPal, AfterPay, and Zip.

And make sure there are no extra fees or additions that appear at the checkout.

Include all pricing from the start of the journey. Surprise costs are horrible!

Payment options

 

Print out your shipping cutoff dates

Stick this on your fridge, on your front door, behind your eyelids!

If your products aren’t delivered in time for Christmas, you’ll be left with disappointed customers who won't be back next year.

Christmas is the busiest time of year for shipping, so pay close attention to when the last day you can send your packages is.

And make sure you clearly communicate that with your customers, whether that’s via a banner, a pop-up notification, or a few helpful emails.

Check out Sendle’s cut-off dates here

Cutoff dates

 

Christmas content marketing

Creating your own ‘gift guide’ or an ‘ultimate guide to buying X for Christmas’ is a terrific asset to have ready to roll out.

Not only does it help your customers understand your brand and tone of voice, it gives you a reason to email them and nudge them towards your store.

And if you do some light SEO keyword research, you’ll never know who will land on your page during their Google travels. 

The more the merrier, right?

Content marketing

 

Thank you cards

People adore small business because of that personal touch.

But when you’ve been packing shipments past midnight, writing out a loving thank you note might be too much to stomach!

Spend some time beforehand writing up your Christmas thank you notes.

While it’s the down season, it can feel like a waste of time or unnecessarily ambitious to spend time on this, but trust us, business will pick up over Christmas!

And you’ll be dreaming of a time when things were quieter...

Thank you cards

 

Have a chillout activity! 💆🏻

With some luck (and preparation!), Christmas will be a terrific time for your business.

Whether it’s a dip in the ocean, a dinner with friends, or even a phone-free night, make sure you give yourself some space to relax and reflect.

Remember, it’s your Christmas too!


Ship sustainably with Sendle

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