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Karin Ballestrazze
 
October 29, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping, General | Karin Ballestrazze

Preparing for the Holiday Season, Part I

It's crucial to consider ecommerce fulfillment when planning for the busy holiday season, especially as online shopping grows in popularity. Ensuring your winery's website has the capacity to handle an influx of traffic and preparing your inventory may seem like more important concerns to get ready for the holidays, but wine shipping is an undeniably important part of the equation. 

It took a while for consumers to start doing a large portion of their holiday shopping on the Internet, but the trend is definitely growing. One of the reasons people avoided shopping online was high shipping costs or uncertain delivery dates, but large in-store crowds are driving consumers to their computers. However, wineries should view last year's holiday season as a cautionary tale. Many retailers offered last-minute shipping specials to entice procrastinators and make a final push before Christmas, The Wall Street Journal reported. A large number of these promotions backfired because of bad weather and retailers making unrealistic guarantees. This led to a large number of parcels arriving late and frustrated shoppers.

Last year, the United Parcel Service shipped more than 31 million packages on Dec. 23 and FedEx sent more than 22 million. This year, UPS and FedEx are pressuring retailers to have offer their biggest sales in mid-December, rather than delaying until Dec. 23. Additionally, the major carriers want e-commerce stores to stagger their offers geographically to avoid overloading and service delays. One of the major issues in 2013 was the fact that many online retailers were promising delivery for Christmas morning for orders placed two days before without accounting for inclement weather or carrier capacity.

Planning ahead to avoid wine shipping problems
Shipping problems can have a serious negative impact on customer satisfaction levels, and this is especially true during the holiday season when people are shopping for gifts for others. You don't want to risk losing business over shipping problems. While poor winter conditions are hard to predict, being prepared and running promotions at the right time can ensure cases of wine arrive at the right time.

Last years' conditions have inspired a shift in consumer behavior, according to a survey from Pitney Bowes, reported in EcommerceBytes. Approximately half of shoppers said they planned to make online purchases earlier this year so packages would be delivered on time. However, when planning your holiday wine marketing campaigns, you need to consider the overwhelming preference for cost-effective shipping over fast delivery. Shipping costs can be a deterrent for online shopping during the holiday season when consumers could buy a similar product in a store and avoid the extra spending. In fact, the study found 35 percent of people abandoned a purchase due to high shipping fees. 

The study also revealed that consumers who preferred fast shipping were willing to pay more for it. 

Discounted shipping rates can be a competitive differentiator for online wine stores during the holidays. Customers may be willing to make purchasing decisions based on where they can get the best deal for cost-effective and speedy shipping. Wineries can consider shipping-included promotions to win a higher number of online wine sales. You can set a specific order price threshold that clients have to meet to qualify for included shipping. If shoppers are near this limit, they will likely add another item to their carts to avoid paying the shipping fees. 

No matter what promotions you choose to run in November and December, early planning is key because it helps you align your wine marketing strategy to your goals and prepare inventory. Running shipping deals slightly earlier may help you avoid some of the holiday issues from last year.

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