The dream: a record-breaking amount of sales during Black Friday Cyber Monday.
The reality: now you’ve got to fulfill and ship that record-breaking number of orders. Yikes.
Luckily, this is a great problem to have, and we’re here to help.
From planning your shipping process, to getting strategic with your unboxing, this guide has everything you need to create an excellent BFCM shipping experience—including a new feature in your Shopify store to save you even more time.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The first step in handling your BFCM shipping is to understand your process as it stands today.
Map Out Your Process
Do you know what the steps are in your shipping process?
If the answer is no, now’s the time to find out—and if the answer is yes but you don’t have it written down, it’s time to do that too. Having the process on paper and outside of your head will be helpful for team members, or for last-minute family “volunteers” you rope in to help you fulfill orders during BFCM.
To figure out what your process is, pay close attention to the next few orders you ship, or check in with your team if they handle fulfillment. Make a list of each step, and write down how long it takes (approximate times are fine!)
For example, it might look like…
- Open order in Shopify to review (30 seconds)
- Get all of the ordered items in one place (1 minute)
- Get out appropriately-sized packaging (20 seconds)
- Package items and put them in the shipping parcel (2 minutes)
- Include any “extras” in the package, like coupons or free gifts (30 seconds)
- Secure package with tape and a branded sticker (30 seconds)
- Print shipping label from Shopify (1 minute)
- Attach shipping label to package (30 seconds)
While you’re doing this, look closely at any bottlenecks, and how long each step in the process takes to complete. Is there anything you can do to streamline those steps or make them more efficient?
Is there anything you can do to streamline those steps or make them more efficient?
Sure, shaving 30 seconds or a minute off each shipment might not seem like much, but if you’re doing ten shipments a day, that’s already five minutes you (or your team) could be spending on something else.
Save Time by Buying and Printing Your Shipping Labels in Bulk
To help you save time on every order you fulfill, you can now buy and print multiple shipping labels at the same time in Shopify—which will seriously cut down on the time you spend fulfilling orders this BFCM. Since you’ll also save money off of retail costs on USPS, DHL, UPS, or Canada Post when you ship with Shopify, it’s a real win-win.
To get started, all you need to do is go into your Orders page and select the orders you want to fulfill.
When you select “Create shipping labels” you’ll see the full list of shipping prices and details for all the orders you selected, and you’ll be able to buy the shipping labels and print them from that page. If any information is missing, you’ll be able to fill it in right there.
Whether you’re fulfilling every order yourself, or relying on a team to help you get orders out the door, this will save you time on every order you’re shipping through Shopify with USPS, DHL or UPS in the States, and Canada Post in Canada—and you’ll still get the built-in discounted rates with each provider.
And remember, that time you save will really add up over the course of shipping 10, 100, or 1,000 orders this BFCM, so don’t stop there. If there are other parts of the shipping process you can optimize, make sure to implement those changes well ahead of the holiday rush.
Stock Up on Supplies
Once you know your process, you’ll have a good idea of what physical items you need to get each order fulfilled. It’s time to see how your shipping inventory is doing, and if you have enough of each item to handle your forecasted sales during BFCM.
The last thing you want is to realize on Sunday afternoon that you’re out of sticky labels and have your shipping process grind to a halt.
If you’re using a desktop printer, now would be a great time to make sure your supply of printing labels is stocked up. If you’re looking to upgrade to a thermal printer for your shipping, the time to do it is now—not two days before Black Friday.
You can also stock up on free (yes, free!) Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express packaging directly from USPS, so if that’s your jam, make sure you’ve got them ordered well ahead of time.
Set Your BFCM Shipping Strategy
OK, your process is ready to rock and your supplies are all set. Now you need to figure out the customer-facing stuff—specifically, what are you going to charge them for shipping?
The most common options are free shipping, flat rate shipping, and exact cost shipping. We’ve got some tips to help you figure out which one is right for your store this BFCM.
Shipping costs are one of the four main reasons people abandon their ecommerce carts, so offering free shipping is a great way to up your conversion rates—but it’s not always cheap, even with the discounted rates you get through USPS and Canada Post with Shopify. If you want to offer free shipping to everyone, you need to understand how that will impact your margins, and you’ll need to know all the rates you’re on the hook to cover—including to ship your heaviest items, and shipping to your furthest locations.
However, it’s not all or nothing when it comes to free shipping.
You could offer free shipping some of the time, to some of your customers. Consider sending a free shipping coupon code to your current customers to encourage repeat orders, or offering free shipping above a certain order size to increase your average order value.
And the one tricky situation you’ll need to watch out for when it comes to free shipping during the holidays? Shipping cutoff dates. If you’re only springing for free standard shipping, you’ll need to make the expected arrival dates crystal-clear to your customers so they can order in time for their holiday of choice.
Flat Rate Shipping
If you want to offset some of your shipping costs and still avoid sticker shock when people check out, a flat rate shipping policy could be the perfect fit. With flat rate shipping, aim to set a price that will cover most of your shipping costs, most of the time, and be ready to take the hit on particularly expensive shipping options or items.
With flat rate shipping, aim to set a price that will cover most of your shipping costs, most of the time.
Your customers will always know ahead of time what shipping will cost them, and you’ll still recoup most of the shipping costs, which is the best of both worlds.
Exact Cost Shipping
If you want to pass on the exact shipping cost to your customers and not a penny more, this is the shipping strategy for you. Customers can see exactly what it’ll cost to ship their order, and pay for it when they check out. They’ll also get the same discounted USPS and Canada Post rates that are available to you as a Shopify merchant, so everyone wins!
Just remember: cart abandonment rates tend to go up around BFCM, and shipping costs are a big reason why.
Just remember: cart abandonment rates tend to go up around BFCM, and shipping costs are a big reason why. It’s not a deal breaker to offering exact cost shipping, especially if that’s what works best for your business, but it is important to be aware of the potential impact—and have a plan in place to win back people who abandon their carts.
You might not be shipping internationally right now because it seems complicated and expensive. But if you’re not, you’re missing out on a big opportunity, and we've teamed up with DHL Express to help you access the worldwide market this BFCM (and beyond).
DHL Express, the world’s leading international express shipping provider, is now an option in Shopify Shipping for U.S.-based merchants. You can ship with the same premium carrier the big global retailers use, with guaranteed express service, negotiated shipping rates, and service to over 220 countries and territories.
Here’s how to start using DHL Express:
- Make sure your shop is setup to ship internationally with shipping zones
- Add DHL Express rates to these international shipping zones
- Create DHL Express shipping labels for international orders
- Schedule a free DHL Express pickup
AND THERE'S MORE: You can also now select from multiple UPS options in Shopify Shipping, to help you ship domestically and internationally. Find out more about how to use UPS through Shopify.
Add Weights to Your Products
Adding an accurate weight to each of your products will help you and your customers when it comes time for BFCM.
You’ll be able to display accurate shipping costs during checkout based on their chosen items, and you’ll be able to quickly and easily print accurate shipping labels for each order. Trust me, the morning of Black Friday is not when you want to be weighing your products on your kitchen scale.
Need to figure out how much each product weighs? No sweat. You have plenty of time to order a shipping scale ahead of BFCM.
Market Your Shipping Options and Prices
Since unexpected shipping costs are one of the biggest reasons people abandon their carts, communicating your shipping prices and options well ahead of time is a great way to reduce the number of carts that get left at the checkout stage.
Plus, “how much will it cost?” isn’t the only pressing question your customers have about shipping during the holiday season. Equally important is the “will it get there in time?” question.
Don’t be afraid to over-communicate when you’re answering both questions, since the answers are useful and important to your current and brand-new customers alike.
This email from Harry’s is a great example of how you could clearly let your customers know the time-and-day cutoff to get their orders before Christmas.
And if fancy emails aren’t your thing, text-based information works just as well, especially if you have details you know your customers are going to care about. Take this example of an email from Emily Ley looping their customers in on shipping details.
Your international customers will appreciate the info just as much as your US customers, and they’ll be armed to make better purchase decisions too.
Beyond using email, here are some ways you can get that information in front of the right people, at the right times during BFCM.
- Add a banner promoting shipping prices, options and timelines to your store. Too much to fit in a banner? Link to a blog post or dedicated shipping information page in your store.
- If you’ve got a shipping deadline coming up, add a popup to make sure shoppers are aware (popups are only annoying if they’re useless, and making sure orders get there by the holidays is hands-down useful to your customers during BFCM and the holidays).
- Add a homepage image or section that clearly communicates all of your shipping information.
- Share your shipping information on social media—seriously. Even if you don’t have free shipping, cutoff dates are a great thing to promote using branded images on Instagram and Facebook.
- Send a reminder email to everyone on your list—and everyone who has abandoned their cart—on the last day they can expect a purchase to arrive before the holidays. You might opt for more email reminders, but this one is a non-negotiable during BFCM. You’ll catch a lot of the holiday procrastinators (which is a sizeable group, let’s be honest).
- Update your FAQ page—and if you don’t have one, now’s the time to write one. People will naturally go to this page to find the answers they need about shipping if it’s not obviously elsewhere, so you’ll save yourself a ton of support emails by getting it set up early.
And if you’re looking for some good images to level up your marketing messages about shipping, check out Burst’s collection of shipping images—it’s where we got the images in this post, and there’s a good selection that can help promote those shipping details. Plus, they’re free.
Pay Attention To the Unboxing Experience
After you’ve done all of this work to get orders to your customers, you want them to have a great experience—with your product, sure, but also with the experience of opening it. With a little bit of planning, you can create an awesome unboxing experience that drives real business results.
So start with that in mind: What do you want the result of your unboxing experience to be?
I want… social shares
If you want more social shares, consider things like branded packaging, a small gift, or a call-to-action asking people to share their experience. This can be as simple as a small business card with your social handles, a hashtag, and a (polite!) request that they post on social media if they like your products—it’s a great way to get some user-generated content to fill up your social feeds for the next few months! Plus, who doesn’t want to be featured on their favorite brand's Instagram account?
It’s a great way to get some user-generated content to fill up your social feeds for the next few months.
Since there’s a good chance during BFCM that some of your orders are gifts, incorporating those social media prompts into the packaging itself could be a good way to make sure they get to their intended recipient. Mom and Dad are probably not going to Instagram that unicorn highlighter, especially since it will totally ruin the surprise.
I want… repeat business
If you want to drive repeat business, consider adding in samples of your other products, or print up a coupon that encourages repeat orders, like free shipping on their next purchase, or 10% off if they buy again in the new year.
To turn the fact that most of your purchases are gifts to your advantage, make sure to include two coupons—one for the gift-giver, and one for the recipient. It’s a great way to get two customers for the price of one. Plus, if you include samples, they might end up in the hands of someone who would never have tried your product otherwise—that’s a BFCM win.
I want… to stand out
As a small business, you’ve got a leg up on your big-box competitors during BFCM, since you can do things that don’t necessarily scale. If you want to make a strong impression, and remind your customers that they’re supporting real people with their purchase, consider including a personalized touch like a hand-written thank you note.
Sure, it’ll add a bit of time to your shipping process… but you know Best Buy isn’t sending those when someone buys a TV during Black Friday. I’m just saying.
No matter what unboxing experience you’re trying to create, you’ll need to make sure you have the supplies to make it happen on hand before BFCM. Stock up on essentials, prep your samples, get any coupons or packaging printed, and make sure you’ve got enough to cover your forecasted sales. Your great plan will be even better when you have enough supplies to actually implement it, you know?
As a small business gearing up to get a piece of the BFCM action, it’s important to get your logistics on point well ahead of holiday shopping season.
As a small business gearing up to get a piece of the BFCM action, it’s important to get your logistics on point well ahead of holiday shopping season. It’ll help create a great experience for your customers, and it’ll definitely help make for a smoother experience for you and anyone involved in helping you get those orders out the door.
Need more help prepping for BFCM? Check out our BFCM toolbox for everything you need to rock the holiday shopping season!