Christmas in September

Vivien Christel Vella
Vivien Christel Vella
Vivien is an international marketing expert who advises customers on the best way to reach new markets.
5 min read
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man and woman window shopping

When is too early to start preparing your e-commerce business for the Christmas rush? The truth is, there is no such thing as too early when it comes to the busiest time of the year – after all, you want to cash in on every opportunity. Follow these tips and best practices to ensure your business has a very merry sales period this year. 

Tips to Prepare for Shipping in Time for Christmas

Know the shipping deadline for Christmas

Speak to your courier partner about the last day for Christmas delivery; if you miss the deadline, you’ll have some extremely disappointed – and angry – customers on your hands. Make sure the shipping deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery is clear on your website too, so that customers place their orders in time. 

Give your website a polish

Speaking of your e-commerce website, the lead up to a busy period is the perfect time to check everything is in order. Does it load quickly? Is navigation fast and intuitive? Is it optimized for mobile? Check out our complete 22 golden rules of e-commerce to ensure your customers have the best experience possible. Remember, happy browsing leads to greater purchasing! 

Create some buzz on social media!

Running a Christmas sales campaign? Great – now you just need to let everyone know! 22% of consumers prefer to discover new products via social media (versus searching on Google1), so you need to ensure your social pages are packed full of gift ideas. You could even play around with a bit of live streaming – a great way to show your products off in more detail.

Come mid-December, there’s still plenty of time to nab some last-minute shoppers – in fact, it’s the perfect time to send your email subscribers a special discount code. 

presents in a warehouse

Shipping: think fast and free

Consumers love free shipping. In fact, 9 out of 10 said it is the leading incentive to shop online more2. It may seem an expensive cost to your business at first, but as online orders with free shipping average around 30% higher in value3, it’ll be a worthwhile investment. 

Deliver unboxing magic

There’s a reason “unboxing” videos are a big hit on YouTube. Online shoppers are increasingly seeing the packaging of their purchases as a big part of the experience. Christmas is the perfect time to go all out and really wow your customers: invest in some beautiful festive packaging for your products, offer gift wrapping at checkout, and include a thank you note with orders. These personal touches will be appreciated by customers and increase the likelihood of them posting about your brand on social media. Bonus points for keeping it green – check out our guide to sustainable packaging. 

Consider free returns and exchanges

67% of online consumers will check a brand’s returns policy before committing to buy4, so a “free returns for the holidays” offer can help you win customers. Furthermore, research shows that offering free online returns encourages a higher average basket spend amongst shoppers5

Don’t forget the final mile!

You’ve smashed your Christmas campaign, shifted all your stock, and wrapped your orders beautifully – now you just need to get them to your customers’ doors on time and in one piece. And for that, there’s no better logistics partner than DHL. As e-commerce experts, we can help you manage the delivery rush and keep those all-important customer promises.

family round a Christmas tree

Christmas Shopping Trends

Knowing this year’s holiday shopping habits will help you plan your marketing strategy. Consumers’ budgets are still being squeezed, with 22% of “holiday celebrators” saying inflation concerns would have a “significant” impact on their spending this year6. They’ll be looking for discounts so be prepared to offer deals to incentivize them to buy.

Remember, though, that value doesn’t just mean the price of your products. In a global survey by Outbrain7, “cost of delivery” was considered to be the most important factor to adults shopping online. Offering free shipping over the holiday season might cost your business a little upfront but could be a worthy investment for the extra sales it generates.   

Inflation will also impact when consumers begin their holiday shopping. Last year, a Google survey8 revealed “as of mid-October, holiday shoppers globally had on average 21% of their holiday shopping complete.” With inflation continuing, expect the trend to be repeated this year – which is why your holiday campaign should be ready to roll out soon.

woman typing on a laptop

Inventory and Supply Chain Management for Christmas Shipping

A big logistical challenge for your business will be managing your seasonal inventory. You probably placed your Christmas orders with suppliers months ago. However, with global supply chains so temperamental now, it’s important to maintain regular communication with your suppliers so that you can react quickly to any delays and minimize the impact on your end customers.

In 2021, a study by McKinsey9 found AI had helped businesses improve their inventory levels by 35%. An example is inventory management software which uses predictive analytics to help businesses better forecast demand surges and automatically order new materials from their suppliers when needed – a valuable system during the busy peak season.

Outsourcing your logistics to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, like DHL Express, is another step to consider to help your business meet demand. A 3PL provider can manage procurement, warehousing, transportation of goods and order fulfilment for you, in addition to customs brokerage if you’re shipping internationally.

Best Practices for Customer Service during Holiday Season

Customer service should be a top priority for your business – after all, the peak season may bring new buyers through your online doors and you want to ensure they become repeat customers.

For e-commerce businesses, the role of chatbots and AI-driven customer support is evolving in new and exciting ways. Chatbots are now able to understand customer intent on a deeper, more accurate level. They can then suggest or upsell products the customer is more likely to buy.

AI can also be utilized to deliver personalized product lists to customers based on their previous buying history. Personalization is a big deal to customers so do your research to see how AI can help.

With a DHL Express Business Account, you’ll receive expert logistics support during the peak season – leaving you to focus on the business of selling.