Warming up for the “Ship-a-thon”—Will the Gift Arrive on Time?

As shoppers have shifted to buying online, many carriers have been at full capacity for months. The result? As stated in a recent AP story, “seven million packages a day could face delays from Thanksgiving to Christmas.”

Will the gift arrive on time?

In a recent post on The Wrap, Solving the Nightmare Before Christmas: Decoupling Shipping from Delivery, my colleague John Grech wrote about how “the increase in online shopping is already stressing shipping companies as orders pile up. And consumers, accustomed to free next-day receipt of their purchases, are now finding that “next day” may mean “next week” as shipments are delayed.”

Clearly 2020 represents a holiday shopping season with issues unlike any other. A recent Associated Press story amplifies the challenges retailers—and consumers—are facing this holiday season. According to Adobe Analytics, which measures 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers, predicts “a total of $189 billion in online holiday sales.” That’s a 33-percent increase over last year—and the equivalent of two years of holiday e-commerce sales growth all packed into one holiday season.

It’s important for retailers to be prepared for last minute gift shoppers and that’s something GiftNow can help with.

Brie Carere, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at FedEx told AP reporters, “We are warmed up for what we’re calling the ship-a-thon. Like everything else in 2020, this is going to be an unprecedented peak season. We’ve actually seen three years of growth in e-commerce pulled forward. So we are expecting a ton of volume.”

Seven million packages a day could face delays

As shoppers have shifted to buying online, many carriers have been at full capacity for months. The result? As Satish Jindel of ShipMatrix shared in the AP story:

“Seven million packages a day could face delays from Thanksgiving to Christmas.”

Satish Jindel, ShipMatrix

Jindel expects total shipping capacity for the industry to be 79.1 million parcels a day, a significant increase over last year’s 67.9 million parcels per day. DHL eCommerce Solutions has seen a 40-percent increase in online orders since the beginning of the pandemic.

Carriers are responding to these changes in 2020 by employing timely holiday retail tactics. They’re trying to hire permanent and seasonal staff (e.g. UPS is trying to hire more than 100,000 temporary employees) and many have added holiday surcharges—from $1 to $5 at major carriers—can add more costs to already struggling retailers’ bottom line. 

Who suffers when retailers cannot meet the expectations of gift shoppers?

Retailers need to realize that holiday shoppers, frustrated that their gifts and packages may not arrive on time, won’t likely blame themselves for procrastinating but may instead blame the retailer. Not only can this result in a lost sale but potentially a lost customer over the longer term. In the mind of the consumer, retailers are only as good as their last experience.

How can retailers help mitigate shopping challenges associated with shipping gifts this year? By decoupling delivery of a gift from the actual shipping of the gift. Digital delivery of a gift—by email or text—allows your customer to buy a gift online (either a product or a gift card) and have it delivered instantly. 

Win the last minute

GiftNow helps enable many retailers to “win the last minute” for gifters that procrastinate by extending the shopping deadline to even the day of the holiday or event. Shoppers can select a gift—without knowing the recipients size or color preference or even their shipping address—and have it delivered digitally in seconds to the recipient. The recipient can then select their color and size preference and desired shipping destination and then the retailer ships the gift, typically using the lowest cost shipping option. The recipient gets the gift they want and exchanges can be significantly reduced or eliminated—an important benefit for both retailers and consumers during the pandemic.

Read more about how digital delivery works here. 

What’s more, the gift can be delivered with a personalized message or video to help ensure the critical emotional aspect of gifting. This gifting capability can help gain new customers and improve loyalty because it provides a valuable—and enjoyable—experience for gift shoppers.

So, when a consumer wakes up Christmas morning and panics when he realizes he forgot to get a gift for dear Aunt Agnes, there’s a quick and easy solution. Maybe Aunt Agnes loves Coach or Kate Spade handbags. He finds one he thinks she’ll like, he can select the “GiftNow” button, enter Agnes’ email address, put on his fake antlers, whip out his phone and record a personal video greeting and sing “Jingle Bells” all the way—the gift is delivered to Aunt Agnes instantly via email or text. And, our gifter doesn’t even have to be an expert in handbags because Aunt Agnes can customize or change the handbag color or style, if she so chooses, and pick the desired shipping address. The gift physically arrives a few days later. 

Not only does the customer (and Aunt Agnes) win, the retailer wins the last minute sale. The gift is digitally delivered on-time with a personalized greeting and the shipping dilemma can be avoided. 

Find out how GiftNow can help your business.

Kevin Payne is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Loop Commerce

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