Shipping Carriers Look to Retailers to Plan Ahead for Holiday Shipping Rush

Running postman delivering packages during the holiday shipping season.

Last holiday season, retailers everywhere were left reeling after millions of packages failed to deliver in time before Christmas. Sure, sometimes these factors are out of anyone’s control (bad weather, website glitches, etc.), but there are a few things that retailers can proactively do to avoid this shipping snafu.

According to Laura Stevens’ recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, this year, shipping carriers are doing their best to convince retailers to change their ways and plan ahead. UPS is asking that ecommerce businesses hold their big holiday sales in mid-December instead of the days leading up to Christmas. FedEx is letting businesses know ahead of time how much it can handle in the weeks before Christmas, and warning retailers that if they exceed that volume, they could very well be turned away.

So, is the retailer or the shipping carrier at fault if a product isn’t delivered on time for the holidays?

The fact is, it’s probably a mix of both.

Either way, it doesn’t help to play the blame game. Instead, online retailers need to plan ahead and think about what they can do to make sure their packages deliver on time – so that their reputations stay intact throughout the holidays. Here are three quick tips to help you make sure your deliveries have “Santa-like” timing this holiday season:

  1. Rely on a Mix of Carriers: USPS, FedEx and UPS

    In addition to private carriers, online retailers should also consider the U.S. Postal Service. According to an article in Bloomberg, the USPS was the unlikely star of last year’s holiday shipping season. “The [USPS] was swamped with parcels just like UPS and FedEx were, with holiday package volume 19 percent higher than the same period late year. But there were no widespread complaints about tardy deliveries by USPS,” the article reports.

  2. Know Your 2014 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

    Stay on top of domestic/international holiday shipping deadlines, and make sure your customers are well aware of them too. For a complete list of USPS holiday cutoff dates, check out our Holiday Shipping Deadlines page here. And be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming infographic, which will tell you all you need to know to prepare for domestic shipments during the holiday season.

  3. Take Advantage of Special Shipping Services

    Be aware of all the “extras” that each shipping carrier has to offer. For example, the USPS (unlike FedEx and UPS) has initiatives such as Sunday delivery to help get products to your customer’s door over the holidays.

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