With the vast majority of brick-and-mortar stores forced to close their doors due to the pandemic, 2020 has become a very challenging year for American retailers.

However, retailers who leveraged e-commerce sales not only survived this difficult time – they thrived. With stay-at-home orders making consumers increasingly dependent on e-commerce purchases, those companies that adapted quickly to the situation clearly outpaced their competition. As of April 21, U.S. & Canadian e-commerce orders grew 129% year-over-year, while all online retail orders grew 146% year-over-year.

Complimentary webinar. How to craft the ideal e-commerce experience during a pandemic peak. Watch now.We expect this surge in online shopping to continue throughout the year and into the holiday season.

Even before COVID-19, online holiday sales have been growing each year; 2019 online sales rose 14.6%, slightly topping an expected range of 11% to 14%. It’s important to remember the online holiday frenzy is not just a U.S. phenomenon; shoppers around the globe buy a huge amount of gifts online between Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the 2019 holiday season, global digital sales reached a staggering $723 billion or 8% growth year-over-year.

With these powerful statistics in mind, how can your businesses celebrate Christmas in July and start preparing for success this holiday season? Below are some great tips to help you get started.

1. Get Mobile – Fast

If you have yet to develop a strong mobile commerce platform, do it now. Last holiday season,
m-commerce sales set a host of records…again. Mobile accounted for as much as 80% of digital traffic and 65% of digital orders on peak shopping days.

Over the next few months, work with your web developers to improve and refine your mobile platform so that holiday shoppers can easily use their phones and tablets to make purchases. Your mobile site should be easy to navigate, offer clear shipping options, and work seamlessly for international shoppers.

2. Focus on Shipping Strategy

Today, most online retailers offer free shipping and returns on certain orders, especially during the holidays. To remain competitive, you need to map out your shipping offers now. Will you have a minimum sales amount for free shipping and returns? As international sales opportunities increase, will you offer free shipping to your global customers?  State your shipping offers clearly on your desktop and your mobile sites, and include those offerings in your marketing and promotional strategy.

Holiday shipping deadlines need to be carefully explained. Your customers must know the last date an order can be placed in order to ensure delivery before the holidays. International shipping deadlines  will differ from the domestic timetable. Make sure you’re staying on top of the international deadlines and that you are conveying them clearly to your customers.

Throughout every step of the online purchase process, deadlines should be reiterated. An experienced shipping partner will help you identify the 2020 deadlines for specific destinations. By understanding domestic and global requirements now, you’ll ensure that your company is ready when the shopping rush begins.
Complimentary webinar. How to craft the ideal e-commerce experience during a pandemic peak. Watch now.

3. Research Shipping Costs

For international customers, you need to communicate possible duties that might be charged at the time of import. If you are just beginning to sell cross-border, do the research right away so that you fully  understand the steps involved.

There are resources available, such as the DHL Trade Automation Service (TAS), to help you understand and prepare for required shipping costs. The TAS includes the following tools:

  • Landed Cost Calculator: Estimates duties, taxes, and other import fees so you can calculate the costs upfront
  • Product Compliance: Ensures your shipment complies with each country’s import and export regulations
  • Comparison of Landed Costs and Product Compliance: Compares charges and compliance rules for up to five exporting countries

And finally, to improve your international customer’s experience, ensure that your website calculates  duties and taxes correctly so that each and every shipment will clear Customs quickly and efficiently.

This year, it is more critical than ever that you start your holiday sales and shipping plans early. How is your company preparing and what are your expectations? Let us know on Twitter at @DHLUS.