Online retailers — bracing themselves for the flood of holiday orders and consumers’ expectations of fast delivery — recently received good tidings: the USPS will be taking on FedEx and UPS by adding Sunday delivery in 20 major U.S. markets, just in time for the holiday rush.
With ecommerce sales expected to rise between 8 and 11 percent this season (according to the National Retail Federation) choosing the right shipping solution and ensuring that your customers aren’t disappointed is more important than ever. What’s more, several of the same factors that caused problems with holiday shipping last year—including extreme weather conditions, a shorter-than-usual holiday shopping window and a surge in ecommerce sales volume—are likely to affect shipping this year, too.
The USPS is already partnering with Amazon.com to handle Sunday deliveries, but the expanded offering will help online retailers who sell via other channels. Seven-day-a-week shipping will start November 17 and continue through Christmas Day (yes, the USPS will even deliver on December 25).
To help prepare for extreme weather events, the USPS has five meteorologists on staff. Businesses can get real-time service alerts about how weather is affecting business shipping on the USPS website.
The USPS expects to handle 450 million to 470 million packages this holiday season—an increase of 12 percent over last year when it offered seven-day delivery in its busiest markets in December. It even delivered 75,000 packages on Christmas Day.
Also, good news for any Internet retailer seeking to keep costs down (and who isn’t?): The USPS recently lowered Priority Mail rates, making it an excellent option for businesses this holiday season.
To take advantage of seven-day delivery and ensure your customers get their holiday packages on time, it’s crucial to be aware of key shipping dates and communicate them to your customers on an ongoing basis. Clearly posting order deadlines on your website’s home page, on checkout pages and even sending email reminders as urgent deadlines approach will help your customers avoid disappointment.
Here are the USPS’s shipping deadlines for customers to receive packages by December 25:
- December 2 — First-Class International or Priority Mail International
- December 10 — Priority Mail Express International
- December 15 — Standard Post
- December 17 — Global Express Guaranteed
- December 20 — Domestic First-class or Priority Mail
- December 23 — Domestic Express Priority Mail
Also, keep in mind that December 18 — Free Shipping Day — is expected to be the USPS’s busiest day of the year.
Endicia is a leading provider of internet-based postage services that make it easier and more affordable to ship parcels through the U.S. Postal Service®. We know that shipping can be complex and our goal is to simplify your shipping operations so you can focus on doing what you do best. Visit us at www.endicia.com to learn more.