How to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Shipping Season 2021

With the 2021 holiday season coming up, businesses need to prepare a bit more than usual. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, freight carriers have been busier than ever all year, and shipping lines are already clogged up.

To prevent any trip-ups for your business, you can use our lists of best practices and holiday shipping deadlines.

Best practices for shippers: holiday shipping season 2021

There are 8 best practices you can utilize this holiday shipping season: research your market, plan ahead, manage cash flow, know your suppliers, use reliable shippers, leverage shipping as a selling point, and be honest with customers.

1. Research Your Market

Before doing anything, research your market. Different industries have different demands for certain products and shipping methods, and if your preferences are in high demand, you’ll need to start preparing sooner. Also, research what your customers want so that you can build your inventory accordingly.

2. Plan Ahead

Due to clogged-up shipping lines, the smaller your business is, the more disadvantaged you are. The best way to fight against this is to plan months ahead and order everything you need ahead of time so that you can serve and retain your customers. You may also employ extra staff and use TMS software to help you manage shipping more efficiently.

3. Manage Cash Flow

Since you’ll be ordering everything ahead of time, you’ll need to pay more upfront and wait longer for any profit. You’ll also need to take into account raised holiday shipping prices. Make sure to manage your cash flow so that you have enough cash to keep your business going until customers start to order.

4. Know Your Suppliers

To prevent late deliveries, you need to know more than just shipping time. Factors like your supplier’s location and lead time also affect how long it takes for you to receive your shipment.

5. Use Reliable Shippers

Always use reliable shippers to prevent damaged or delayed shipments. To balance profit and efficiency, be sure to find freight carriers who are affordable, deliver within their promised time frame, and provide freight insurance and tracking.

6. Leverage Shipping as a Selling Point

When it comes to shipping out, you can use free shipping (for orders before a certain date) as a selling point. This motivates customers to order earlier, which helps you avoid late deliveries that might lead to bad reviews and lost customers. To maintain your profit margin, simply adjust your prices to take your shipping costs into account.

7. Be Honest with Customers

Always be honest with your customers about the possibility of shipping delays and low stocks. This year will be particularly hectic, and you’ll need to manage their expectations. To inform them, you can have a message at the top of every page on your website, as well as regular updates on the state of shipping lines on your social media.

Holiday shipping deadlines 2021

Freight carriers often have holiday shipping deadlines that ensure their ability to fulfill their delivery time promises. These deadlines are important to know if you want everything to go to plan.

Read on to learn the holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL.

USPS

USPS has 5 categories of holiday shipping deadlines if you want to receive your shipment before December 25.

Domestic (Contiguous U.S.)

  • Retail Ground Service: Dec. 15
  • First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail Service: Dec. 18
  • Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 23

Domestic (Alaska)

  • Retail Ground Service: Dec. 2
  • First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 18
  • Priority Mail Service: Dec. 18
  • Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 21

Domestic (Hawaii)

  • Retail Ground Service: N/A
  • First-Class Mail Service: Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail Service: Dec. 17
  • Priority Mail Express Service: Dec. 21

International (U.S. to Canada or Mexico)

  • First-Class Package International Service: Dec. 6
  • Priority Mail International Service: Dec. 6
  • Priority Mail Express International Service: Dec. 13
  • Global Express Guaranteed Service: Dec. 22

FedEx 

FedEx has 5 categories of holiday shipping deadlines.

Domestic

  • SmartPost: Dec. 9
  • Ground Economy: Dec. 12
  • Ground: Dec. 15
  • Home Delivery: Dec. 15
  • Express Saver: Dec. 21
  • Three-Day Services: Dec. 21
  • One-Day Services: Dec. 21
  • Two-Day Services: Dec. 22
  • 2Day A.M.: Dec. 22
  • Overnight Services: Dec. 23
  • Same Day: Dec. 24

International (U.S. to Canada)

  • International Priority Distribution: Dec. 17
  • International Economy: Dec. 17
  • International Priority: Dec. 18
  • International First: Dec. 23
  • International Next Flight: Dec. 24

International (U.S. to Canada Ground)

  • Northbound: Dec. 13
  • Southbound: Dec. 14
  • Canada Domestic: Dec. 15

UPS

UPS has 3 categories of holiday shipping deadlines.

Domestic

  • 3 Day Select: Dec. 21
  • 2nd Day Air Services: Dec. 22
  • Next Day Air Services: Dec. 23
  • Ground: Go to the UPS website for a real-time quote.

International (U.S. to Canada)

  • Worldwide Expedited: Dec. 21
  • Worldwide Express: Dec. 23
  • Standard Services: Go to the UPS website for a real-time quote for the contiguous U.S. states.

DHL

  • SmartMail Ground: Dec. 11
  • SmartMail Expedited: Dec. 15
  • SmartMail Expedited Max: Dec. 17
  • Economy Select: Dec. 19
  • Express Worldwide: Dec. 22
  • Domestic Express: Dec. 23

How to find the best freight carrier for holiday shipping

The quickest and easiest way to find the best freight carrier for your needs is to use a freight marketplace like GoShip.

By allowing you to compare the services of different freight carriers all in one place, GoShip lets you find the carrier that ships your orders in time

Hurry and find the freight carrier that’s right for you at GoShip!

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