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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


‘Tis the Season for Big Spenders

Now that we are at the height of holiday festivities, shopping, and celebrations, we are seeing purchases begin to rack up for employees. Are any sneaking into their expenses?

We looked at millions of expenses from our aggregated, anonymized, direct customer data from December of last year to identify trends in unauthorized (as in, out-of-policy) spend being submitted for reimbursement during the holiday season. Below are our findings.


According to the National Retail Federation, spending on gifts is expected to surpass $730B this year, an all-time high. So it’s no surprise that it was also the biggest area of unauthorized spend last year. In fact, our AI identified over $783,000 of out-of-policy gifts, which is nearly 9x the monthly average of out-of-policy gift spend we caught the rest of the year. In contrast, the approved gift spend in December was $134,000.


According to the Deloitte 2019 holiday retail survey, holiday shoppers are spending significantly more on experiences, including socializing with family and friends. This trend is consistent with our data on unauthorized business meals, which in December of last year spiked to $52M, which is 7x higher than the monthly average of the rest of the year.


Americans double their drinking during the holidays, according to BeverageDaily. Even more dramatically, we saw unauthorized alcohol spending in December of last year quintuple from the average for the rest of the months. These aren’t small expenses, either. The average incident of unauthorized alcohol spend was $573, which is 6x the monthly average of unauthorized alcohol spend during the rest of the year, and 12x the amount of authorized alcohol spend in December.


According to a Consumer Report survey, 60 percent of Americans tipped their service providers during the holidays last year, averaging $45 per person. While the holidays are certainly an appropriate time to show your appreciation, unauthorized gratuities in December of last year was a whopping 109x higher than the monthly average of unauthorized gratuity spend.

While we don’t recommend extinguishing the atmosphere of holiday cheer with a strict expense policy this season (there’s certainly a benefit to rewarding employees and adopting expense policies to recognize their hard work), there’s a limit to reasonable expenses on the company dime. AppZen gives you 100 percent visibility into your expenses and flags unauthorized, out-of-policy spend to your attention, so even your finance team can relax and enjoy the holiday season.

This does not represent all gift spend, just ones that are identified as out-of-policy

This article originally appeared here. Republished with permission.