8 Holiday Shipping Tips For Retailers

October 24, 2018 by Mikayla Avila Vila
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Get the jump on the holidays. Ship early.

We know you’re still carving monsters into your pumpkins, but the retail and logistics industries have shucked their Halloween costumes and are battening down the hatches in preparation for the holiday shopping season. Sales during 2017’s holiday season exceeded projections with 1.1 billion packages moved by UPS and FedEx alone in the span of six weeks. This year’s forecast is looking just as festive, so to keep everyone from feeling like the McAllisters running for the plane in Home Alone 2, we’ve compiled some holiday shipping tips for retailers.

Making A List And Checking It Twice

Holiday shopping happens earlier every year, with shoppers checking their lists as early as October. Peak sales occur during Black Friday, while half of the holiday shopping happens on Cyber Monday. Last year’s shipping season saw major carriers facing a high rate of late deliveries as common shipping methods reportedly performed two to three times worse than any other shipping period during the year. Don’t let your shipments get caught up in high-volume delivery traffic: prepare to ship early. Here are some tips for our trade:

  1. Stay on top of your orders – Shoppers feel that Christmas crunch when they’re placing orders close to the deadline. To circumvent any hiccups, try to ship orders the same day they’re placed, or at least within 12 hours of the order. It’ll drastically reduce your risk of delay.
  2. Prepare packages during downtime – You know what your biggest sellers are, so stay ahead of the game by boxing popular orders in advance and noting the weight on the package. You’ll be saving loads of time when orders start pouring in and all you have left to do is slap a label on and voila! You can send your package off.
  3. Keep supplies on hand – By looking at last year’s packaging habits, you can predict what you’ll need and have a fully stocked inventory of supplies.
  4. Check delivery addresses – High-volume delivery traffic means a higher chance for incorrect labels. This can make a mess of your supply chain. Check and triple check addresses with your shipping provider before printing labels.
  5. Prepare for returns – Return policies affect the buyability of an item. A solid 68% of shoppers make their purchases on return policies alone, so keep your returns simple for your customers. Include a return shipping label to simplify the return process.
  6. Protect from loss – With such high shipping volumes only projected to increase this holiday season, protect yourself from loss and damage by asking your provider for options for preventative measures, like delivery tracking and requiring customer signatures.
  7. Clearly define your shipping terms – If you’re a routine shipper then you know that shipping terms are often overlooked on days that end in Y. Misunderstandings skyrocket during the holiday shopping season. Nothing gets more mixed up than the estimated time of delivery, which we discussed at length in our blog The Unvarnished Truth About LTL Freight Transit Time Estimates. Our suggestion? Give shoppers explicit, domestic ship-by dates that will ensure packages arrive by December 25th. That way they know what to expect and when to expect it.
  8. Cut out the middleman! – Finding the right time to get your packages to the post office can be tricky. Before we’re in the thick of the holiday shopping season, check with your provider to see if package pickup is an option. Time is of the essence.

Important Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2018

Here are some important shipping dates for USPS.

Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Retail Ground Friday, December 14
First Class Mail Thursday, December 20
Priority Mail Thursday, December 20
Priority Mail Express Saturday, December 22

Find a more thorough breakdown of important holiday shipping cutoff dates here.

Let FreightCenter Be Your Holiday Shipping Helper

Do you ship freight to warehouses and packages to consumers? Consider treating yourself this year by consolidating your shipping with one provider: FreightCenter! We’ll introduce you to our network of carriers and help you find discounted volume shipping rates when you condense your shipments. Our expert freight agents will make sure your freight gets where it needs to be with time to spare. To get started, call us at 800.716.7608, or run your free quote now. Santa has his helpers—you should too!

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