How to reduce costs during peak season 2021
Bloge-commerceMulti-carrierPeak season
5 minutes

How to reduce costs during peak season 2021

Holiday season is with us once again. The streets are lit up with festive decorations and e-commerce retailers across the globe are bracing themselves for a busy, and profitable peak season.

Naturally you want to optimise your sales as much as possible during this lucrative period. But you also need to drive down costs, particularly those relating to your shipping services, which can increase significantly during peak season. This article will talk you through some of the most effective ways to reduce costs during the peak season in 2021. From driving down shipping costs to automating fulfilment, we’ve got it covered.

Control shipping costs

Many of the major players in domestic and international logistics increase their prices during peak season. By far the best strategy for ambitious e-commerce retailers is to control shipping costs wherever possible. Here are a few ideas to help maintain your profit margins for Christmas 2021.

  1. Offer incentives or discounts to customers who place their orders early, or are happy with delivery options that are not time-sensitive.
  2. If you aren’t already, switch to a multi-carrier strategy that will give you greater choice and flexibility. More on this shortly.
  3. Consider removing free shipping options during the peak season.
  4. Only offer free shipping over a certain price limit.
  5. Consider offering single rate or flat rate shipping during and/or around the peak season. This is a particularly effective strategy for smaller businesses.
  6. Make sure you consolidate packages wherever possible.
  7. Review your returns strategy and make sure you are doing all you can to minimise returns. More on this in a later point.

Plan ahead

Any shipping carrier worth its salt will be committed to working in partnership with customers to provide the best service possible, at any time of year. If you haven’t already contacted your preferred carriers to discuss any rate increases, changes in shipping schedules, additional surcharges and whatnot, now is the time to do so. In addition to dealing with significant increases in service levels, logistics companies are also having to contend with a variety of serious impacts on supply chain and transport networks. Some carriers have even set limits for parcel volumes to help them mitigate ongoing bottlenecks and backlogs. The more you can plan ahead, the more likely you are to get your shipments to your customers on time and in great condition.

Your planning activities should also extend to your suppliers and manufacturers. If you are expecting a surge in demand following a sale or promotion, for example, let them know. If any element of your supply chain is based in an area that is likely to experience weather-related disruptions, try to prioritise these orders and check in with your contacts regularly so you can respond to any new challenges.

Above all, it’s a good idea to strengthen your shipping strategy by working with a variety of different shipping companies. Which brings us neatly on to our next point…

Adopt a multi-carrier strategy

Adopting a multi-carrier strategy rather than a single carrier strategy is one of the best ways to reduce costs during the peak season. By working with a range of reputable carriers, you can mix and match your services to suit your different customer’s preferences and control what you are spending on different types of deliveries.

Carrier A might be the ideal choice for long haul shipments that don’t need to be delivered quickly. Carrier B could be the better option to accommodate last minute deliveries (from customers who have forgotten to order a Christmas gift, for example). Carrier C might be the ideal company for last mile deliveries, and so on and so forth.

Alongside offering that all-important choice and flexibility to your customers, and minimising your shipping costs, you also create a vital safety net in case things go wrong. This is especially important right now when transport networks, couriers and the supply chain in general are stretched to the limit – and the weather doesn’t always cooperate.

And if those benefits weren’t enticing enough, if you work with a cross-border logistics company like B2C Europe you will enjoy all the great attributes of a multi-carrier strategy without the need for time consuming and unnecessary admin, or contract negotiations. All your shipments and returns are managed end-to-end, the best prices secured, insurance organised (if you require it) and much more.

Want to find out how B2C Europe can help your e-commerce business? Arrange a free, no obligation consultation today.

Outsource your e-fulfilment processes

When you need to scale-up your fulfilment services quickly, outsourcing to a reputable e-fulfilment provider is a great solution. You can’t risk losing your hard-earned revenue or customer loyalty due to orders not getting there on time, or in perfect condition, after all.

During peak season you don’t need more things to worry about. E-fulfilment providers like B2C Europe can help with time-consuming picking and packing, stocking and storage and much more. They can also help with inventory management so you can make sure you have the right stock levels to maximise your profits throughout the peak season. Plus, you’ll have more time to spend on the more strategic elements of your e-commerce business, which means more chances at converting customers and delivering a great customer experience that will keep them coming back for more.

Control returns

Returns are a downside of e-commerce at the best of times. During peak season they are the bane of every e-commerce retailer’s life. Delayed deliveries, an overwhelmed transit network and spikes in shipping volumes makes managing and maintaining stock levels a nightmare. Then there’s the issue of not being able to communicate accurate delivery times to your customers.

If you can, a great tactic to minimise returns and therefore reduce costs during peak times is to extend the threshold for acceptable return times until after the busy season has subsided. There are also a few simple things you can do to prevent returns happening in the first place. Always include honest, accurate and helpful product descriptions on your website, and offer additional information about sizing where appropriate. Fashion retailers, for example, publish photos with models of different sizes wearing the products. This helps the customer envision themselves in the item and can dramatically reduce returns. You could also incorporate a chatbot or even live chat into the buyer journey to address any FAQs associated with the product.

Unfortunately, no matter what steps you put in place to reduce returns, they will doubtless remain a fact of life and must be handled swiftly and professionally. That means providing the returns choices that consumers want and expect, at competitive and appropriate rates. If your customers prefer drop off points or lockers for their returns that is what you should be providing.

Remember that when it comes to offering choice to the customer, adopting a multi-carrier strategy is a great idea. Particularly when you use a cross-border logistics provider that can scale with your business as the needs of your customers change.

We hope this guide on how to reduce costs during peak season in 2021 has been useful. I think we can all agree that it has been a challenging year for e-commerce businesses, with a great deal of uncertainty. So, why not end the year on a high and do everything in your power to reduce those peak season costs and maximise your profits.

And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. The shipping carriers you work with are there to support you as much as they possibly can. Plus, the team here at B2C Europe are always on hand to discuss your challenges and to help you find actionable, cost-effective, long-term solutions to help you grow your business and build customer loyalty.

If you want to talk to one of our shipping experts to discuss your options, give us a call. We’re multi-carrier e-commerce logistics specialists, and we’d love to help.

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