It’s beginning to look a lot like… Canada Post’s rotating strikes will continue through the holidays. Canada is one of the largest cross-border markets for U.S. eCommerce retailers. 56% of foreign purchases made by Canadians come from the U.S. as estimated in PayPal’s Cross-Border Transactions Merchant & Consumer Comparison USA Report.
As one would expect, Canadian shoppers are hip to the strikes. They are a savvy bunch and expect delays in delivery. Having said that, they also expect eCommerce retailers selling into Canada to be equally on top of the Canada Post situation and to do everything they can to facilitate both shopping, shipping and delivery for their Canadian customers.
How can eCommerce retailers do this?
- Have your strategy in place.
Create a marketing and operations strategy to maintain the best customer experience and generate the most revenue from Canadian sales through the strikes. Given the approaching holidays, consider the promotions you can run, or move up, to accommodate delays in shipping. Determine your ideal “order by date — for delivery by date” deadlines for Canada and publish these dates on your homepage, shopping cart, and checkout pages. You may also want to include them in email and direct mail promotions and more. Be sure to confirm these dates with your shipping provider (see tip #6).
- Encourage Canadian sales early this season.
Great news. According to a 2018 poll by Ebates.ca, 82% of Canadians plan to spend 38% of their holiday dollars online, versus 36% in 2017. Canadians who plan to take advantage of holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday say they’ll complete about one-third of their holiday shopping on these days (36% on Black Friday and 33% on Cyber Monday). So, run your Canadian shopping and shipping promos on, and even before, Black Friday and Cyber Monday to make sure Canadian shoppers receive their gifts in plenty of time for the holidays.
- Offer free or discounted shipping while you can.
Cross-border shoppers in Canada are like most consumers in that they look for deals and low-cost shipping. If Canada Post strikes continue, eCommerce retailers may be forced to use alternate last mile delivery methods that will, most likely, be more expensive. As the holidays close in, retailers will be challenged to find the balance between shrinking margins and meeting customer’s expectations with discounted or free shipping. So, offer free and/or discounted shipping early, while your margins remain intact.
- Communicate shipping delays and provide alternate methods of delivery.
Does anybody really believe the adage “no news is good news”? I say, “not if it gets between me and my holiday gifts”. Proactively communicate with shoppers about delays and other means of delivery, including accurate pricing and transit times for those alternatives. Learn more about ways to communicate in our earlier blog post “Canada Post Rotating Strikes Mean Delays. Now what?”
- Prepare for returns.
$90 billion worth of goods was returned this past holiday season according to figures from Optoro, a company that specializes in return shipments. Because delays can affect how quickly Canadian shoppers get their money back, retailers who use Canada Post as their returns solution should revisit their return strategy, examine alternate return shipping solutions and communicate potential return delays to customers.
- Look to your shipping provider for help, advice and solutions.
It’s important to point out that you can’t be transparent about transit and delivery times if your shipping provider is not communicating with you. The fact is, many shipping providers, including the USPS, use Canada Post for their last mile delivery. This information is rarely advertised by shipping providers and, if they’re not telling, you are going to have to ask.
But you shouldn’t have to. Your shipping provider should be communicating with you proactively, letting you know if they use Canada Post and how deliveries to your customers can be affected. They should keep you up-to-date on any delays, offer alternate delivery options with accurate pricing and transit times to help you make sound decisions. Your shipping provider should be a valuable resource and a partner, helping you ensure the best possible customer experience in any challenging circumstances.
Canada Post is a reliable, timely and cost-effective method of final mile delivery in Canada. We hope Canada post and its hard-working employees come to a speedy and fair resolution. Maybe Justin Trudeau will be able to help.
Questions? Ask us! You can even chat with us live on our website. Point2Point Global has over 60 years combined experience at the world’s top international shipping and logistics companies. We put the customer first in everything we do. It’s “the way we do ship” around here!