6 Tips to Help You Prepare Your Shipping Strategy for the Holiday Rush

October 19, 2018

Brands By Bradley Hearn

The rush of the holidays is approaching fast and online sellers need to prepare now to handle this festive and busy time of year. Anticipating how to deal with damaged or lost packages, unexpected surcharges, increased packaging materials and more can not only ease shipping stresses, but also provide more clarity to your shipping expenses and needs.

Tip #1: Know Shipping Blackout Dates

At the very core of any online seller’s shipping strategy is the need for timely deliveries. Know what the blackout dates are for deliveries and pickups to be made this holiday season. UPS identifies Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as official holidays and will not pick up or deliver on these days. For a full list of holiday blackout dates throughout the year, click here.

Tip #2 Don’t rely on Guaranteed Delivery as a Seller

Most shippers are aware of the UPS and FedEx delivery guarantee. Each package is guaranteed to arrive on time or it’s free. However, this guarantee is altered during the peak holiday season. The money-back guarantee for FedEx Ground, FedEx Home Delivery, and UPS Ground will be suspended temporarily for packages on November 26 through December 24, 2018.

Tip #3: Understand When, Where & Why Extra Expenses May Occur

UPS and FedEx each increase fees during the holiday season. Gain clarity on what fees may impact your business as well as aim to avoid them whenever possible by considering the following:

  • FedEx will not apply additional residential surcharges during the holiday season; however, UPS will.
  • UPS and FedEx each take different approaches to peak surcharges so be sure to review your carrier contracts accordingly.
  • Beginning November 19 and concluding December 24, 2018, FedEx and UPS will apply additional peak surcharges to shipments that qualify as unauthorized, oversized or require additional handling in addition to existing charges. For a better understanding of these peak charges, click here.

Tip #4: Capture Refunds When Deserved

Incorporating a parcel auditing strategy into your shipping strategy can benefit online sellers year round but the advantages are particularly clear during the holidays. Parcel auditing allows companies – small and large – to monitor overcharges that may be applied to shipments, late deliveries that your business deserves refunds for, damaged packages and more. A valuable byproduct of a good parcel audit is data analytics that provide insight on shipping history and cost allocation. Such data will allow you to identify shipping and human error, helping you save money when possible.

Tip #5: Order Packaging Supplies Now

With the rush of holiday shopping and shipping just around the corner, it’s important to be prepared for the necessary materials it takes to stock up on essential packaging materials. From boxes to tape to labels, plan now to avoid missed opportunities. Remember… just like you, packaging and shipping providers will be busy during the holidays. Beat the rush and gain confidence that you’re well positioned to ship this holiday season.

Tip #6: Protect Your Packages

Millions of packages will be shipped this holiday season and delays, damaged or even lost packages are going to happen. Porch pirates are out there looking for doorsteps filled with boxes, so encourage your customers to have shipments sent to their workplace or a similar access point. This will reduce your residential surcharge costs. Consider how insurance for your shipments can help not only give you confidence in your shipping investments and efforts, but mitigate risk, particularly in cost.

Finally, the holidays will get busy both personally and professionally — as well as introduce unavoidable stresses along the way. But with some planning and a stronger understanding of shipping, you can avoid unnecessary problems and enhance your holiday shipping management and entire holiday experience in general.

If you’d like help fine-tuning your shipping strategies this holiday season, Refund Retriever and ChannelAdvisor can help. Contact one of our e-commerce consultants today for more information. 

Blog post by Brian Gibbs, president of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay-based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever’s primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce and more. Learn more at www.refundretriever.com or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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