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How to Optimize Selling, Shipping, and Fulfillment on Your Online Store

In order to get the most out of the holiday shopping season, it’s important to make sure your online store is set up to sell, ship, and fulfill all of your orders. Optimizing your ecommerce offerings before the holiday rush will help you run your business efficiently, even during the gift giving rush. Follow these holiday tips to make sure your online store is ready.  And if you’re looking for more information, check out our complete Holiday Selling Guide

Get payment set up

It’s always best to make it as intuitive as possible for your customers to navigate your store, especially at checkout. Be sure to design a checkout page that's eye-catching while still matching the overall aesthetic of your site.

Your store can seamlessly integrate with online payment processors such as Stripe, PayPal, and Apple Pay, as well as AfterPay, which lets customers pay for a purchase in installments over time. It's also simple to set up in-person sales via a Square credit card reader.

Sales tax laws vary from state to state, but you can take the headache out of knowing how much to collect by adding a tax-collection tool to your website. Squarespace offers an integration with TaxJar, a cloud-based platform that will automatically calculate how much sales tax and when to collect on a purchase. Automatic tax calculation is free for Squarespace users on Commerce plans selling in the United States, and for an additional fee you can use TaxJar’s AutoFile service to file returns and remit payments on your behalf.

Sellers based outside of the United States (or sellers with customers outside the U.S.) can set up manual tax rates for various countries and Canadian provinces. And for your customers’ convenience, you can choose to have the sales tax added to the selling price by enabling tax-inclusive pricing.

Ship out your orders

When it comes to holiday shipping and getting your goods into your customers’ hands, you can choose from a wide range of options — just find the one that works best for your business.

You can charge a flat rate that applies to any order, regardless of the number of packages, an option that appeals to customers who value its up-front costs. Or you can choose to charge different shipping fees based on how much your products weigh, though you will have to enter their weights on the product listings ahead of time. (The weight will only be visible to the customers if you add it to the Additional Information field.)

If you want some help finding the best shipping rates for all of your products, Squarespace has options. For sellers in the United States, you can use Squarespace shipping labels to ship via USPS. Squarespace shipping labels are integrated directly into Business and Commerce plans  and may cost less than typical retail pricing for USPS shipping options. 

Squarespace also offers extensions that help you compare rates from various carriers, allowing you to figure out the best deals at the moment. You could even use Squarespace shipping labels in conjunction with third-party extensions, so you have all the options you need to serve your customer base. Also, if you offer hand-delivery to customers near your business—a popular option for bakeries and other places that sell fragile or perishable goods—you can add such delivery options through a custom checkout form, so users can pick the date and time that works best for them to receive their goods.

Shipping extensions include paid services that offer a variety of subscription plans, depending on your needs. These extensions can save time in the process of importing an order or printing a mailing label. The services will also generate tracking numbers, send shipping notification emails, and help coordinate package pick-up from carriers. Squarespace shipping labels streamline your workflow by auto-populating customer addresses and tracking numbers directly on your Commerce dashboard, creating a seamless order fulfillment process. 

Shipping extensions offer paid services that offer a variety of subscription plans, depending on your needs. These extensions can save time in the process of importing an order or printing a mailing label; the services will also generate tracking numbers, send shipping notification emails, and help coordinate package pick-up from carriers. 

And to delight customers, you may want to offer to gift-wrap their items, either for an additional fee or as a free bonus. It’s an easy option to add to your checkout form, where you can also enable the purchaser to include a gift message to make a surprise feel even more personal.

Encourage in-person pickup

If a customer needs to get their purchase in time for a specific date by picking it up in person (or if they just want to save on shipping), you can add an option for in-store or curbside pickup.

To help customers find your store’s physical location, you can integrate the Location Management feature, which will make sure the correct address, contact information, and hours appear when customers search for your store’s location via search engines. Keeping this information up to date and accurate can even improve your search results ranking when people browse for businesses near them. It's also wise to add a page containing your contact information, as well as a contact form so customers can email you. 

Know your shipping deadlines

Help your customers plan their purchases by clearly communicating ordering deadlines and shipping cut-offs. To manage expectations, add an announcement bar that states the ordering deadline for guaranteed delivery by a certain date can be invaluable. The exact deadline will vary by carrier. 

In 2021, many retailers and carriers are noting that shipping may be facing delays, so be sure to set expectations with your customers by providing clear information in your checkout experience.

Track where you can ship what

Plenty of wineries and breweries experience robust online sales. But such businesses face a wide variety of patchwork laws regarding where you can ship alcohol to legally. Since no one wants to get in trouble or have to send an apologetic email after a customer has placed a purchase you cannot fulfill, create Shipping Zones for your store, so that as soon as a customer enters a shipping address, you can tell them whether you can ship the product to their area. 

There’s a lot to keep track of during this time of year, from the locations you can serve to which company you want to handle your packages. Planning ahead can stop you from feeling overwhelmed, so make a list if that will help, and get your payment, tax, and shipping selections taken care of as soon as you can. 

Now that you’ve optimized your online store for the holiday season, it’s time to create your holiday marketing plan.

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