Ship in Time! How to Optimize Your Shipping Deadlines for the Holidays

Welcome to the holiday season for 2018 — is your eCommerce site ready for the influx of shoppers? If recent trends continue, people will log on and start shopping en masse on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, rather than wait until they get to work on Cyber Monday.

But they won't stop then. Consider the last-minute shopper — make sure to communicate deadlines well with those customers, and long before deadlines loom. The time is now.

Talking Deadlines

In 2018, Hanukkah starts December 2, much earlier than last year. Major shipping companies have published their shipping cutoff dates for goods to arrive by Christmas, December 25, and they range from as early as Friday, December 14 to Saturday, December 22.

Customizing Your Dates

Once you browse through the recommended cutoff dates from major shipping carriers, you may get nervous. Every business is unique, so if you don't feel right guaranteeing delivery by the Post Office or UPS's date, you're free to create your own parameters. You can move all the dates up one day, or five days, so all your orders arrive on time. Many factors can impact holiday shipping, such as wet weather, flight delays and the sheer amount of packages. If you think the order-to-ship turn around may be tight, it's best to buffer a few extra days.

Shipping Tools

For Weebly customers on the Performance plan, you can enable real time shipping to calculate shipping rates determined by the carrier. Using a Shippo integration, Weebly supports various carriers, such as United States Postal Service, DHL Express and Parcelforce in the United Kingdom. Other carriers such as United Parcel Service (UPS) can be added on the drop-down menu. To avoid unforeseen costs for your business and your customers during the holiday rush, enable real time shipping.

For planning purposes, you can send an email reminder to customers about the deadlines. Include all the dates, and information for sending overseas, if you have customers around the world. Even just in the United States, holiday deadlines are earlier for military post offices. For example, you could add something like this, which provides date cutoffs for standard shipping:

To guarantee delivery by December 25th, please order by the dates listed below:

  • US to US = December 20

  • US to APO/MPO, meaning Military post = December 18

  • US to International = December 8

  • Africa and Central, South America = December 1

Placement of Deadlines on Your Site

Next comes the presentation of the deadlines on your website. Veteran shippers say this information cannot be over communicated. If you have a custom holiday message on your site, add shipping cutoff dates to it. Take this same information and add it to your FAQs page. If you list each of your items in a separate photo, one idea is to dedicate a photo slot entirely to order deadlines. It's human nature to pass over something if your focus is on another detail, so it's ok to repeat yourself.

Gradually Increase the Font Size

As the season wears on, it is helpful to make deadlines more prominent. Urgency is high, so use that time constraint to create urgency and promote fast sales.

By the second week of December, people are scrambling. Think like a consumer to come up with the best presentation. Chances are high that dates need to be front-and-center, in several locations.

Can You Offer Free Shipping on Big Orders?

Depending on your shipping expenses, give some serious thought to offering free shipping with larger purchases: it's often too tantalizing for customers to resist. Find a price point that is easily reachable for your customers, such as free shipping on orders over $50 or $100.

Keep in mind that the competition is probably offering free shipping, and you don't want to be left behind.

Conclusion

The holidays are a time for making memories and there's nothing like getting the perfect gift surrounded by friends and family. Make sure your business is ready to be part of this experience by spelling out order deadlines way in advance to get shipments out on time.