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5 Holiday Shipping Pro Tips for a No-Hassle Customer Experience

At uShip, our focus typically centers around large and bulky items, and how to overcome the challenges of shipping them. This year, we wanted to also offer resources that help sellers with traditional, parcel-sized products master their holiday shipping. Our friends at Shipper HQ have allowed us to share this resource that details key dates and tips for modern solutions to holiday shipping.

If you’re one of the many retailers that does the bulk of your revenue during the holiday months, you know that having a customer service experience that exceeds expectations, especially around shipping, can be the difference between someone choosing you over a competitor.

No one wants to get a package delivered to them days after a holiday is said and done. The last thing you need in Q4 are cancelled orders, unhappy customers and bad feelings in what is supposed to be the season of good cheer.

That’s why we put together a list of tips on how to keep your customers happy with your online store’s holiday shipping process. By adopting these tips, you can make your shipping process more convenient, cost-effective and punctual for your customers.

1. Know Your Holiday Shipping Deadlines

It’s important to know key shopping and shipping dates so you can keep up with inventory, sales, orders and fulfillment.

To ensure packages arrive on time, keep in mind these holiday shipping deadlines for the U.S. and plan your shipping staff accordingly to ensure that services selected are delivered by the holiday.

USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines in the U.S.

ServiceShipping Cut-Off Dates
Retail Ground™Saturday, December 14th
First Class Mail®Friday, December 20th
Priority Mail®Saturday, December 21st
Priority Mail Express®Monday, December 23rd

FedEx Holiday Shipping Deadlines in the U.S.

ServiceShipping Cut-Off Dates
FedEx SmartPost®Monday, December 9th
FedEx Ground®Monday, December 16th
Home Delivery®Monday, December 16th
Express Saver®Thursday, December 19th
2Day® ServicesFriday, December 20th
Overnight® ServicesMonday, December 23rd

UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines in the U.S.

Service Shipping Cut-Off Dates
Ground®Friday, December 13th
3 Day Select®Thursday, December 19th
2nd Day Air® ServicesFriday, December 20th
Next Day Air® ServicesMonday, December 23rd

2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Be clear and upfront about the last day your customers can order to receive their items.

It’s imperative you communicate this at checkout, at the bare minimum. But it’s even better if you communicate on the product’s listing or even right on your homepage.

When possible, get granular and communicate delivery dates with each shipping option so your customers can decide if they want to opt for 2-day or overnight shipping just to be on the safe side.

Consider using this opportunity to do a marketing promotion, email campaign, text update, or run an ad. This reminds your loyal customers that they need to purchase by the cutoff date if they want to receive their order in time for gift giving. Scarcity tactics play to your customer’s sense of urgency and encourage them to click “Buy now.”

3. Keep Customers Informed Throughout the Shipping Cycle

Even when you’ve informed customers on your site and at checkout that they’ve met the cut-off date, they can get antsy wondering if their order will arrive in time.

Take this opportunity to engage with your customer by notifying them when their package has been shipped. The best way to do this is by providing a tracking number so they can follow along.

And if the worst should happen and the shipment is delayed (whether through a fulfilment issue, a carrier issue, weather, or one of the other problems that can crop up around holiday shipping), take the opportunity to get in front of the problem and “make it right” with the customer.

Offer a discount, refund or other incentive. This will help you explain the issue while — fingers crossed — still retaining the customer.

Of course, the best way to avoid eCommerce delivery problems is to plan for every contingency. We highly recommend implementing a backup carrier should your primary carrier let you down.

4. Make Receiving More Convenient at an Access Point

Consider giving your customers the opportunity to pick up their package where and when it is most convenient for them.

In scenarios where you’re shipping to an urban area, or where a signature is required, this could mean the difference between your customer receiving their shipment on-time and missing out.

Consider providing shoppers alternate delivery options such as “pickup in store” (like UPS Access Point® or a FedEx® Hold at Location). These options offer shoppers protection from “porch pirates” and extended pickup hours.

5. Take Advantage of Free Shipping Day

This year, the annual “Free Shipping Day” falls on Saturday, December 14, 2019.

Free Shipping Day started back in 2008 as a way to extend the holiday online shopping season. Traditionally, holiday shopping online has peaked around Cyber Monday. This was due to the fear that ordering any later might mean they receive their products too late for gift-giving.

Stores can sign up to participate at FreeShippingDay.com, or you can do your own thing and offer free shipping renegade-style. And hey, if you’re nervous about offering free holiday shipping, check out our guide to offering free shipping that doesn’t bite into your bottom line.

Want more holiday shipping tips? Check out the holiday shipping survival guide we put out to help you develop a shipping strategy that converts.

Need help optimizing your store’s shipping for the holidays? Try a 30-day free trial of ShipperHQ.