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Holiday Shipping Deadlines – Ensuring Your Goods Reach the Buyer in Time


Holiday Shipping Deadlines – Ensuring Your Goods Reach the Buyer in Time

The four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas represent the busiest retail days of the year. Online shopping experiences an even sharper increase in traffic during the holiday period and provides an important source of revenue for most eCommerce businesses. However, despite the enthusiasm for online retail, many customers are concerned about whether their goods will arrive in time to place under the Christmas tree.

Failure to deliver products on time and in perfect condition can harm brand trust, resulting in lost customers. To ensure a positive customer experience and maintain their customer base, online sellers need to prepare a solid shipping plan to put products in their customers’ hands by holiday deadlines.

For a smooth holiday season, you need to streamline order fulfillment, invest in protective shipping materials, including air pillow packaging, and develop positive relationships with your carriers. Here are a few tips for ensuring your goods reach your buyers in time for the holidays.

Develop a Shipping Plan

Developing a shipping plan is essential to a smooth holiday season. Customers have higher expectations about when and in what condition they receive their goods during the holidays. Supply chain scheduling with deadlines may seem challenging, but taking all factors into account can make your shipping process more efficient.

-Contact all the major carriers you use to determine their last-date shipping deadlines.

-Make sure you are familiar with your supplier chains’ shipping times and obtain estimated landed shipping costs for easier budgeting.

-Plan for delivery delays and communicate estimated shipping times to your customers to help you meet their expectations. This could include marketing emails or pop-ups on your site, indicating a countdown until the cut-off date. Effectively communicating the cut-off date can also create a sense of urgency for customers, prompting them to buy more products.

-Assess the 4 KPIs for packaging and label issues; this can help you evaluate your business strategies to keep your shipping operation running smoothly.

-Consider outsourcing to a third-party logistics (3PL) company to manage warehousing, picking and fulfillment and liaising with carriers. Outsourcing these logistical aspects to your business frees up resources to divert into customer service.

Planning helps you gain insight into projected shipping delays and estimated deadlines, enabling you to notify your customers about the final day to order goods so they can receive them by Christmas.

Offer Expedited Shipping Options

You also need to consider the shipping times you offer to your customers. Online retail giants like Amazon and eBay offer expedited and same-day shipping, changing the expectations of online shoppers worldwide. Major companies who ship billions of dollars of merchandise annually have much greater flexibility of funds when it comes to waiving consumers’ shipping, so consumers have become accustomed to free shipping.

Large companies that offer fast shipping options force small businesses to do the same to remain competitive and ensure their customers receive their goods promptly and in good condition. But, during the holiday rush, small businesses may feel like offering fast shipping is cost-prohibitive. Here are a few ways you can offer expedited shipping without breaking your budget.

Be Selective with Your Shipping Providers

The most effective shipping method for your goods depends on the types of products you sell. For small packages, parcels and gift cards, UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service are the best choices, as they can provide the fastest shipping times at a more affordable rate. However, for large shipments, fragile items, artwork, furniture, appliances, and bulky or oddly shaped items, the right option is consolidated freight or white glove carriers.

Set a Minimum Purchase Threshold

One way to meet this demand is by having a set order amount that meets your free shipping threshold. This also works to your advantage—the consumer who wants to buy your product may purchase more items to meet your free shipping threshold.

Consider Free Shipping

A recent study by global tech company Pitney Bowes showed that up to 75 percent of online consumers preferred free shipping with a slightly longer delivery time.

To make this a viable option for your business, consider incorporating some freight cost into the product’s price and adjusting your estimated purchase cut-off deadlines to allow for additional delivery time.

Assess Your Inventory

Determine how many products you currently have, how long it typically takes for products to get to customers and your company’s past sales history, especially around the holidays. These factors will tell you what your inventory should look like for the current holiday season and, ultimately, determine the number of supplies you will need to ship your packages.

Stock Up on Essential Shipping Supplies

The shipping supplies you need will depend on the sizes, weights and fragility of your products. Be sure to get a good selection of boxes for the types of products being shipped. Determine the sizes and amount of boxes you’ll use, depending on your inventory and your sales forecast.

Consider the types of products you’re shipping to determine what kind of packaging material to use. If you are shipping fragile products, you’ll need a large supply of protective packaging, such as air pillows, to safeguard the products during shipping. Customers prefer environmentally conscious business practices, so finding air pillow packaging that is compostable or biodegradable is an appealing bonus to many consumers.

The tape to seal the packages is essential for sealing your packaging to prevent spillage, tampering, or theft. Brown shipping tape is activated with water, and it is company logo-printable and tamper-evident. It’s a little more expensive than the more commonly used heavy-duty plastic tape, but anything imprinted with your company’s name can make an impression on consumers and build your brand.

The Takeaway

Christmas is the busiest time of the year, and customers expect their products to be delivered in time to put under the tree. Small businesses can stand out from the competition by ensuring they meet holiday shipping deadlines, but in order to do so, they need a strong fulfillment and shipping plan to help streamline their operation through the festive season.


Cory Levins is the Director of Business Development for Air Sea Containers

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Protecting Your Product: 10 Necessary Shipping Steps for Your Business

Packaging is essential when it comes to your product, for both protection and presentation. Consumers expect to receive a certain quality of packaging with their product, especially as the popularity of social media reviews and unboxing videos continues to rise. Not only does the packaging need to keep your product intact throughout the shipping process, but it needs to be easy to reuse if a customer wants to return the purchase and must safely ship it back.

To protect your deliveries, you need to utilize high-efficiency shipping materials customized to the product size.

1. Pack Efficiently

The efficiency of your packing determines the state of your product when it arrives at its destination. There are important questions to consider when selecting the box size. How fragile is the product? Does it have sharp edges? The product should fit in the box easily without leaving much airspace around it. Consider air pillow packaging to secure the product snuggly and limit excess space in the box. At the same time, you must avoid over-packing the box or container with too much cushioning. Cushioning can include:


-Bubble wrap

-Packing peanuts

-Foam or cardboard inserts

Avoiding wasted space in the box enhances efficiency and helps customers receive their purchases in good condition.

2. Choose the Right Packaging Materials

For products that require cushioning, it’s critical to choose packaging materials that are specialized for protecting your specific product. Styrofoam peanuts might work for most shipments, but more fragile materials might need to be bubble wrapped or supported through air cushions.

If the product needs to be kept cold, gel packs are an affordable and effective alternative to dry ice. It’s also essential to choose a high-quality tape to seal the box. You need industrial-strength, water-activated and pressure-sensitive tape, so your parcel doesn’t split open during shipment.

3. Select the Right Box

The box you use for shipping goods is directly responsible for how protected and well-presented the product is on arrival. A new or gently used box is essential for maximum security, and it needs to be structurally designed for the specifications of your product.

Customized boxes specific to your product are a worthwhile investment for secure shipping and intact delivery. Consult experienced shipping and packaging experts to determine the cardboard grade and fluting that best protects your products.

4. Add More Wrapping for Longer Distances

Generally, the farther your package is traveling, the more protection it needs. If you’re shipping internationally or to a far-off domestic location, there are more opportunities for your package to be dropped or mishandled. Adding an additional layer of wrapping, ensuring the product is secure in the box and using extra tape can make sure the product arrives safely.

5. Don’t Wrap Items Too Tightly

While a secure fit is critical to keeping your product safe in the box, it’s vital to avoid packaging items too tightly. Avoiding tight packing is especially important if the items are fragile glass or soft and impressionable. Too much pressure on the product can cause the product to break, crack or alter its shape. Items should be secure but devoid of tension.

6. Wrap All Items Separately

If the package you’re shipping contains multiple products, you’ll need to wrap them separately to avoid their shifting within the box during transit. Individual wrapping and cushioning should result in your products being gently secured within the box so they can’t move around or hit each other with any force.

If any items in the package contain liquid, provide a layer of plastic packaging around all items to avoid moisture damage if anything leaks or breaks.

7. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Using packaging that is eco-friendly and made from recycled materials or can be reused in the future for your shipments has various benefits for the company and the customer.

Consumers are likely to support and shop again at businesses taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. As a company, there can be an initial cost to change your packaging habits. But using recyclable packaging reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves on raw materials and manufacturing energy expenditure.

8. Design Packaging for Returns

Occasionally, customers may be dissatisfied with a product and need to ship it back to your business as a return. Creating packaging that can be unpacked and repacked enhances the consumer experience and ensures the product will still be intact when the product returns to you.

9. Label Your Package Clearly

Successful shipping requires a successful delivery. No matter how well you pack your product, if the labeling isn’t clear, then it might not arrive at the desired destination in one piece or at all.

If the package’s contents are delicate, mark them as fragile on all sides so the parcel will be handled with extra care. For big or small businesses who ship many fragile items, investing in a stamp to mark all boxes going out of the facility as fragile is good practice.

10. Parcel Insurance Coverage

No matter how well you package and protect your products before shipping, things are ultimately out of your control once it’s out of your facility. Consider insurance if you are frequently shipping fragile items or products that are not easy to replace. There is always a possibility of goods getting lost or damaged in transit, so having a financial security net can benefit your business.

In addition to adequate insurance coverage, consider implementing package tracking. Understanding tracking software and how technology is improving last-mile logistics gives you an element of control over the transport of your products and helps you ensure your goods are being delivered on time.

Final Thoughts

Human error is a significant factor when considering safety in shipping. There is no way to eliminate the risk involved as long as people are handling the packages. That’s why mitigating the amount of damage done to a product is necessary to consider before shipping.

As a business owner, you must decide how to package goods with these various elements in mind. Online consumers have high expectations regarding the condition of the product on arrival and the expediency of its delivery. The right packaging materials and custom cardboard boxes can mitigate many risks involved with domestic and international shipping to improve customer satisfaction and retention.


Cory Levins is the Director of Business Development for Air Sea Containers