holiday shipping for e-commerceOnline shopping is more popular than ever, with Comscore reporting a 14 percent increase in online shopping during the 2012 holiday season. As retailers prepare for another exciting Christmas season, many are stocking up on shipping supplies ahead of time. Boxes, bubble wrap, labels, and more will all be necessary to package up and send the products people buy to put under the Christmas tree.

Because holiday purchases are extremely time-sensitive, businesses realize the importance of getting items in the mail as quickly as possible during the last six weeks of the year. For that reason, these retailers are purchasing items early. As e-tailers and shoppers prepare, here are a few tips to have the most successful holiday season ever.

Make a Shipping Plan

A few weeks in advance of the holiday season, prepare a game plan for getting your items in the mail quickly. Who will package items and ensure they are mailed? If you don’t already have a dedicated staff member to take care of it, consider hiring temporary help for the holiday season. It’s also important to set aside an area for your shipping processes. Order enough shipping supplies in advance to get you through as much of the season as you can and assign someone to monitor packaging levels to alert you when it’s time to order more.

Package Items in Advance

If possible, package items ahead of time and carefully label them to distinguish one item from another. This will allow your shipping team to simply grab an item off the shelves once an order has been placed and label it for mailing.

Use Package Tracking

For each of your shipments this holiday season, choose a shipping method that generates a tracking number. While this may add an extra charge to each of your mailings, it will provide a cost savings in that it will prevent many of the frantic phone calls that come in between the order being placed and the product finally arriving. Additionally, it will give your customers peace of mind as they’re able to follow a package each step of the way.

The holiday shopping season often begins before Black Friday, so be sure to prepare for demand to gradually increase, rather than hit all at once. By ordering supplies and creating a shipping plan as far in advance as possible, your small business will be prepared to take on the sudden influx of customers the holiday season brings.