It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the festive hustle and bustle. Between shopping, meal prep, and all that socialising, have you got your Christmas shipping strategy in place? The Holidays bring high sales volumes, which can lead to limited containers, freight and port congestion, and delivery delays. Deadlines are looming, so if you haven’t already got a plan to follow, we have some last-minute shipping tips to help you fulfil orders securely and on time.
1. Check Christmas shipping deadlines, check them twice
In this day and age, we expect everything to happen instantly, but shipping goods overseas takes time. During seasonal peaks, carriers bring forward deadlines in light of order influxes, supply chain disruptions, and staff shortages. Make sure you know the dates, a general rule of thumb being that the later you ship, the higher the cost, and lower the chance of delivering on time. Deadlines obviously vary depending on the carrier, type of goods, and their destination, but shipping any later than mid-December makes it unlikely that your items will arrive before Christmas.
2. ‘Tis the season of goodwill (with your shipping carriers)
If possible, it’s best to let your carrier know what your order volume might be ASAP, so that they can let you know whether or not they have the capacity to meet your requested delivery dates – and in turn, you can communicate this with your customers. Time can run away with us in the festive season, so don’t be afraid to lean on alternative partners if you’ve left it a little late for your regular shipping company – just make sure you read reviews, check their social media presence, and negotiate a good price.
3. Sleigh bells ring, streamline your shipping
Once you know delivery dates, you need to organise and prioritise shipments for fast fulfilment – but stay realistic. Do you have sufficient staff and resources? Will it be profitable for you to ship high quantities of items quickly, especially if they’re bulky? And while offering a range of delivery options boosts order volume, you should only offer dates that you’re confident you can meet – which is where carrier communication comes back in. If an order isn’t received on time, you’ll get the blame, not your shipping partner, so get their guarantee beforehand for you to meet customer expectation.
4. Time to start shipment wrapping!
It’s one of the most common shipping issues – poor packing. If you don’t protect your shipments with the right materials, they’re more likely to get damaged or lost during transit. While many shipping companies offer expert packing services, if you’re doing it yourself, keep the below in mind:
- Use strong, sturdy boxes – preferably new, and preferably two (an inner and outer box) with at least two inches of cushioning between them.
- Cushion and protect items – packing materials should be air-cushioned and relative to size and weight (e.g., fragile items should be wrapped with extra newspaper). If a package isn’t bulging slightly when you push it down, it’s not packed securely enough.
- Seal shipments tightly – seal both boxes with professional tape in an H-pattern, which should provide adequate surface area, and make it difficult to remove or open during transit.
- Label clearly – use a clear labelling system, and make sure your shipment doesn’t have any old labels or bar codes, which could cause it to go to the wrong destination.
Though uncommon, if packages are broken or waylaid, make sure you’re protected with an appropriate level of insurance – especially if they’re of a high monetary or sentimental value.
5. I’m dreaming of…a different delivery method
We can all relate…the advent calendar’s gone down too quickly, resources are running thin, and you need to reconsider how customers can receive their orders ahead of Christmas. If you’ve run out of time or need to cut costs, have you thought about offering product pick-up at a storage unit, instead of shipping? If logistically possible, this can be a great way to pack in some last-minute orders, and could even build stronger relationships with your customer-base for the future. See some more Christmas Money-Saving Tips here.
6. Christmas returns are coming to town
Although tempting, try not to overspend on a fast festive delivery strategy – it’s the season of impulse buying after all, and there’s a chance that come the New Year, a lot of those products will become returns. Last-minute shipping for the Holidays needs to balance customer expectation with profitability, so we can all have a season of happiness and joy. Merry Christmas!