How Seasonality Affects Shipping Services
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the year. They provide an excellent opportunity for online retailers to increase sales with promotions and discounts. However, this time of year can also be challenging, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
For the best customer experience, shoppers should have access to a wide range of shipping options that meet their needs. At Parcll, we connect with eTailers to provide direct parcel service and expedient e-commerce solutions for your clients. Let’s look closer at how seasonality affects parcel shipping services and how to maintain an optimized parcel program.
What are the main Seasons for Shipping Professionals?
While the logistics of each year can be drastically different depending on trade relations, stock market, economy, and other factors that can’t be predicted, there generally are four seasons recognized by shipping professionals. They all have their own distinct characteristics and requirements.
The Quiet Season: January - March
This is one of the most calm times for shipping services, since there is a decline in orders. The holidays are over and there’s no longer a rush for things to be delivered before Christmas day.Besides the obvious fact that people are no longer buying gifts for their loved ones, this is also a time where people watch out for their spending . After Spending money on gifts and traveling for the holidays, we see a decline in purchases being made, and therefore a decrease in shipping in the e-commerce industry.
The Holiday Shipping Season: November - December
Not only are there a lot of orders being placed leading up to the holidays, but shippers are also rushing to complete their last orders before things are shut down for the holidays. This is the time where people all over are buying things in abundance and e-commerce stores struggle with shipping in order to meet their customer’s demands. This season is busy with customers trying to ship out last minute loads which adds on to everything else. During this crazy time, if your LTL shipments are time-sensitive, it’s best to utilize expedited LTL.
Germany Starts Winter Shopping Earlier
Winter shopping starts in September for Germany, which is earlier than other European markets. This is actually due to the weather. Since the temperature drops earlier than other European countries, Germans are already buying winter clothing and accessories by September, with a peak in November.
E-Commerce websites catering to this trend would capitalize on this increase in spending by promoting low-cost winter accessories during September.
Black Friday In Germany
When it comes to Black Friday, European countries — including Germany — love to partake in this American tradition. According to an internet survey in Ecommerce Vision, about 76 percent of Germans are aware of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday (2015 figures). About 86 percent of respondents said they would find deals using their computers. This is one of the big reasons why we see a huge boost in stuff being shipped during this November madness.
Seasonality during summer does not necessarily increase in volume, but it changes drastically in other aspects. For one, activities shift demand towards outdoor goods, causing companies to adapt their transportation and distribution solutions to ensure they have the inventory readily available. For example, items like grills, patio furniture, charcoal, and beach supplies are all seasonal items. If the products being shipped rise during the summer months, working with shipping companies that are flexible enough to accommodate for surges will be vital to your supply chain.
Summer can also cause some difficulties when it comes to shipping. As the summer heat rises, it can be more difficult to keep temperature-controlled products stable and fresh. This is not including just food items, but also things like paint, pharmaceutical drugs, electronics, and cosmetics.
Back to School
The end of summer marks the beginning of “peak season,” led by the rising demand for school-related items. As children begin to get lists with what’s required to be in their backpack on the first day of school, parents begin to wonder where they can get the best prices on pencils, notebooks, pens, rulers, and calculators.
This can add up fast, when you consider that about 56.6 million students attend elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States each year. That’s a lot of pens and backpacks! Then there’s the 3.7 million teachers who also are left to purchase their own supplies as well.Teachers end up stocking the class up with construction paper, markers, poster board and other supplies for projects and assignments.
College students also purchase a lot of supplies around this time of year. Last year, 19.9 million Americans attended college, most of which needed a backpack, folders, binders, notebooks, and writing utensils.
Below images shows the average spending in 2019 for back-to-school shopping season.
France’s “Soldes” Adds to Summer Shipping Activity
There’s a six week long sales event every summer (and winter) in France. Online retailers offer store-wide discounts at an average of 30% during this time, which generates an abundance of sales. Many also offer free shipping, which adds to the popularity of shopping online during this time.
By changing marketing copy — including newsletters and website language — to focus on Soldes, many stores see an incredible increase in orders during these six weeks, which begins June 24.
Keeping track of trends in certain countries, like Soldes in France, will help better understand how shipping might be affected during different times of the year. Here’s a few reasons you should always be aware of these trends:
- Better predict the website traffic during these seasons
- Ability to predict the number of orders to better keep track of stock
- Manage order fulfillment in an effective manner, even when it’s during rush hours
“Last Day to Ship” Deadlines
Holiday shipping deadlines vary across carriers. Make sure you are aware of your parcel carrier’s “last day to ship” to ensure your products make it to customers on time. A day or two late can mean that someone doesn’t get their gift on time, leading to a poor customer experience that damages your reputation.
Because global parcel shipping services are busier this time of year, be prepared for potential impacts. To mitigate these risks, encourage sales closer to the Black Friday holiday. This way, you can begin to pull orders and ship products in a timely manner.
For a quality international eTailer solution, check out our services at Parcll Delivery.
Increased Shipping Volumes
Online sales continue to expand through November and December. Parcel carriers have delivery volumes of 30 million packages per day or more! With this expanded capacity, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your parcel service. Let your account manager know the volume you plan to send out and how this aligns with their other shipments. Good communication avoids unnecessary delays and disruptions.
Extra Surcharges and Claims
With peak season volume increases, be aware of changing parcel carrier pricing. Sometimes, parcel carriers change their pricing structures to include accessorials and surcharges. If these prices go up, they can affect your profitability.
While you can’t change seasonal prices, you can be aware of potential surcharges on large packages or packages that require additional handling. Talk to your carrier in advance to know what surcharges, if any, to expect. To make a profit, you’ll need to build these added costs into the product price.
Delivery and Return Experience
To ensure effective delivery, provide complete and accurate information on all shipments. Know the dimensions and weight of your packages as well as specific street addresses. Shipping charge correction and correction fees add up, so you want to avoid them. Not to mention, when you’re in a holiday time crunch, you don’t want an incomplete address to slow you down.
Keep in mind that the returns process is part of the total customer experience. If a customer wants to return something but it’s too difficult, this can create a big problem for customer loyalty. Take every step to ensure your returns process is simple. You can do this by including a return label and packaging instructions.
Tips for eTailers
Up your holiday game. Expedited shipping and other similar perks can be a great way to keep business flowing during seasonal changes. Many customers are looking to buy last-minute gifts, and others are always looking for economic or logistical advantages from companies they choose to buy from, since they’ll be making purchases in large volumes.
Communicate frequently. Mistakes and late orders are forgivable, but failing to communicate is not. It is important to remind customers that you care about them even during the busy season. One way to do this is by ensuring they know what to expect from your services.
Outsource. Instead of having to worry about delivering bad news, using a parcel shipping company like Parcll removes the burden from you and lets the experts handle it. This is an especially valuable resource for companies shipping overseas. Parcll clears customs up front and only ships Delivery Duty Paid, so all of your eTailer stresses will disappear with our services.
The time of year has a big impact on eCommerce shipping solutions. There’s more going out, which means parcel shipping services need to make adjustments on their end. By working with the right parcel carriers, maintaining good communication and running sales and promotions before the holiday crunch, you can enjoy a smooth holiday season. All you have to do is get started with Parcll Delivery, the shipping solution for B2C e-commerce companies. With only one IT system throughout our locations worldwide, including in North America, Europe, and Asia, we embrace challenges and get your products through customs with efficiency. Reach out to us (open mail link) and we will help you get through it!
Related: The Global Ecommerce Evolution
- By Vanessa Tran
- Oct 29, 2020
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