COVID-19 has caused both shipping volume and delivery times to increase dramatically. With many businesses shifting to ecommerce to fill the space that brick and mortars have left behind, B2C ecommerce transactions have risen by 17%.
Increases in Volume
As a result of this increased order volume, shipping volume has also increased. The total shipping volume of parcels has increased by 13%*. Were this increase not in the middle of a pandemic, it would be considerably more manageable. However, carriers are also facing challenges during COVID-19.
Many of the US’s domestic changes to shipping are around the speed of delivery and allowing drivers to maintain social distancing when interfacing with customers.
Shipping within the US has faced a few challenges. For example, USPS Priority Mail’s two, and three-day service commitments will now be extended to three and four-day services. Luckily, express one-day and two-day services will continue to run as usual.
Additionally, to minimize contact and potential contamination between drivers and customers, FedEx does not require signature confirmation during delivery. Money-Back Guarantees have also been suspended until further notice, effective immediately. This impacts all FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, and FedEx Office services.
As of March 26th, 2020, UPS has suspended UPS service guarantees until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shipments created during this time are not eligible for service refunds.
International shipping has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. For countries that are less commonly shipped to, many carriers don’t send planes to those areas. Instead, it’s likely that parcels travel in the cargo area of commercial planes. With the dramatic decrease in commercial air travel, carriers have stopped shipping to many of these areas. At this time, it’s actually easier to list countries that can still be shipped to than those that cannot.
For the most part, services to Western Europe, China, and Australia are carrying on with delays. However, Central & South America, Africa, parts of mainland Asia, parts of Oceania, and eastern Europe are experiencing temporary suspensions of services. If you have customers in these regions, check individual carrier websites for information about suspensions of services. To see an up-to-date list of restrictions and carrier information, check out this resource hub.
How to Adjust Your Shipping
Some consumers may not be aware of the changes listed above. Be sure to include messaging on your website or during checkout that lets customers know their packages may take a little longer than usual. PrestaShop allows you to easily edit your store theme to adjust messaging. Check out this setup webinar for more information.
Same-day shipping (or 24-hour shipping) is not the same as same-day delivery. But, streamlining your shipping and fulfillment allows you to ship orders out the same day they are placed. Finding ways to reduce the timeframe between an order being placed and shipping out can be very incentivizing to customers. If you can ship items in a more timely manner than large marketplaces like Amazon, you can build a larger customer base while also elevating your brand.
Because the point of sales has changed for so many orders placed with brick and mortar stores, it’s likely that many companies with ecommerce presences have seen an increase in physical store orders move to their websites. Organizing this transition can compound the difficulty businesses associate withCOVID-19—particularly if warehouse order pickers have to sift through outgoing shipments to find an in-store pickup order.
How ShipStation Can Help with Pickup Orders
ShipStation is largely a shipping platform. However, you can import many processing orders into ShipStation and other shipping platforms. If you’ve added an option to buy online and pick up in-store can be a simple add-on. When these orders import into your shipping platform, set up service mappings based on the requested shipping option a customer selected during checkout. If you custom map something like “Pickup,” filter to find these orders and exclude them from your label batches that you’re shipping out.
Common ways to automate in-store pickup is to create an alert for orders with no requested shipping and assign them to someone separate from a warehouse worker that packs outbound parcels. Since these don’t require a shipping label, you can automate an email or SMS message someone other than a picker can. Either way, you can and should also automate these pickup orders to have a separate shipping confirmation email. A standard “your order has shipped” email is not appropriate for your local customers, so finding a softer, more friendly tone is important.