The 2022 holiday shopping and shipping season doesn’t have to be hectic.

Tip 1 – Start preparing now

Plan for the holiday season as far in advance as possible. When the busy business shipping months hit, you’ll be glad you did. Here’s how to prepare:

  • Keep your sales forecast up to date. What’s trending with your target customers? What products are most popular? Get those inventory items in stock and make sure your ordering process is seamless.
  • Check on your supply chain. The last few years have shown us that supply chain disruptions can make or break businesses. Communicate with your suppliers to ensure you’ll have products when you need them.
  • Work on making your order fulfillment process more efficient. Stock up on your end products and fulfillment supplies such as packaging and labels. And consider stocking extra. You don’t want to leave orders on the table because you lack the products or materials to ship them.
  • Track your inventory across all your sales platforms. This helps you avoid accepting orders for items you don’t have or can’t get.
  • Look for inspirations and ideas at the FedEx small business page to enable your business to grow. Find diverse business-related topics, visibility tools, marketing tips, and more—all in one place.

Tip 2 – Create happier customers by managing their expectations

Communication is key. Keep your customers informed and updated every step of the way. Here’s how:

  • Designate a holiday “order by” shipping deadline that you feel confident you can meet (check with your logistics partner to avoid disappointment). Use your promotion schedule and order projections to guide you. Then, tell your customers—early and often—what that order by date is.
  • There’s a chance that sales will go above and beyond your expectations. That’s a good problem to have! But it could cause delays if you’re not prepared. Add a disclaimer about delays to your checkout page to avoid overpromising.
  • If you have limited quantities of certain items, show that on your site so people won’t be disappointed.
  • For early 2023 deliveries advise customers of your festive closure dates, so they don’t go elsewhere while you are having a well-deserved break.

Tip 3 – Monitor your volumes closely

Tracking your inventory is a continuous process. Stay organised and be aware of changes that may affect orders. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many orders are coming in?
  • How are people responding to promotions?
  • What’s my available inventory?
  • How well are my fulfillment processes keeping up with demand?

Do I need to adjust my “order by” shipment cut-off? If you do, promote gift cards after the cut-off date. They don’t require shipping, and they surprise and delight the recipient. As an added bonus, they will help you grow your customer base

Tip 4 – Overcommunicate order status to buyers

Customers would rather have too much information than not enough. And keeping them in the loop can reduce your customer service calls and emails. Here are some ideas:

  • Send tracking information with order confirmations. Explain how customers can sign up for automatic notifications.
  • Communicate proactively about where an order is in the fulfillment process. Send alerts to customers when the order is packed, shipped, out for delivery, and delivered.
  • Set up delivery-delay notifications.
  • Add post-order FAQs to your website and email communications. This will help customers find relevant information on their order status, tracking details, and returns process.
  • Manage up to 20,000 shipments with a personalised tracking dashboard. Advanced tracking is a free and easy way to improve customer service and decrease costs.

Tip 5 – Give shoppers more control over holiday deliveries
The holidays are busy. FedEx can help. Start by telling your customers about our tools and services such as:

  • FedEx Shipping Location. Being able to drop-off and pick up their packages at our stations and select retail locations, such as pharmacies and newsagencies, creates convenience. It can help reduce porch piracy.
  • The FedEx® Mobile app. Customers can create shipping labels and get delivery alerts right from their phone. They can also virtually sign for packages.
  • Integrate our free FedEx Delivery Manager toolkit into your marketing. It gives customers more control over holiday deliveries and can help reduce claims for missing shipments.

Our top tip for businesses this busy festive season is to take time to do advance research and prep work—it will be worth it. Always communicate with customers and share tools giving them more control over deliveries. FedEx is continuously enhancing services to make solutions more accessible and useful supporting business and setting them up for a successful holiday season.

Peter Langley is vice president of FedEx Express Australasia.