As the smell of BBQ ribs wafting through the neighborhood is replaced by pumpkin spice in just about everything, it is apparent that the busy holiday shopping and shipping season is fast approaching.

And early projections call for a solid sales season for e-commerce and m-commerce merchants.

Commerce sales are expected to see pre-pandemic growth in the mid-teens, rising 15.5% to $235.86 billion. Further, at $117 billion, it expects m-commerce to account for almost half of those sales this year and top the 50% mark in 2023.

eMarketer anticipates holiday commerce sales top 15% to $235.86 billion. And of that total, m-commerce will account for almost 50% of those sales at $117 billion.

To manage this busy season, shippers must move beyond basic business rules and plan and optimize their logistics, especially as customer delivery expectations evolve.

To do this, retailers and e-tailers are scrambling to keep up with consumer wants and needs, and the holidays aren’t about to change the levels they have come to expect -- fast, free, and sustainable final-mile shipping.

Delivering Free Shipping Fast

According to Chain Store Age, a Ware2Go survey showed that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase online if the brand offers free shipping. However, speed also matters. About 75% of those surveyed said they are more likely to buy if the item can be delivered in two days or less. And, close to 70% said they were more likely to visit a site if an ad boasted free and speedy shipping.

When not charging directly for shipping, shippers must have processes and systems in place to help them keep costs under control by utilizing an omnichannel, multi-carrier logistics plan and limiting ancillary costs such as dimensional weight (DIM) fees.

The Environment Matters More

But, sustainable shipping matters as well for an increasing number of shoppers, especially younger ones.

A study by Retail Brew showed a little more than half (54%) said sustainability is essential, while 46% said it isn’t. However, two-thirds of Millennials and Gen Z respondents said sustainability is important, while 55% of Gen X and 42% of Baby Boomers said it wasn’t necessary.

Planning and optimizing shipments to reduce carbon footprint by moving products closer to shoppers is vital. Also, eliminating wasteful corrugated and filler by utilizing systems to pack items in the correct sized carton can help shippers contain costs and boost brand value.

Win the Retail Returns Race

One holiday tradition that every retailer can count on is that presents will be returned for various reasons. Customers also want the return process to be effortless — no calls to customer service, no lengthy RSA forms, and no return shipping fees.

Automating e-commerce returns can save time and effort. From easy, online return requests to printing the label and tracking the return, automation will speed the process, reducing customer dissatisfaction and costs.

The holiday season can be stressful as retailers strive to meet a delivery experience that rivals the shopping experience. But with technology that allows shippers to plan and optimize their shipments to improve productivity and profitability, it can be a happy holiday for everyone.

Mark Picarello is Managing Director, Pierbridge, WiseTech Global US. Pierbridge was founded in 2004 by an experienced executive team with a proven track record of success in the transportation software industry. Pierbridge started with a vision that we could fundamentally transform the way businesses deliver goods to their clients. Our innovations have made that vision a reality through our leading-edge final-mile management solution, Transtream. In 2018, Pierbridge became a part of the WiseTech Global group. To learn more about final mile TMS, visit: