The 2018 holiday shopping season is upon us, and for businesses, it means keeping a close eye on the holiday shipping deadlines. Not knowing the shipping deadlines for the USPS, UPS, and FedEx could be a costly mistake.
Whether your customers start shopping during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday or wait right before Christmas, you have to know the holiday shipping deadlines.
Knowing the deadline for each carrier will ensure the items your customer’s buy from you will get to them as promised. Miss those deadlines and that special gift will not get delivered on time, which might just mean losing the customer forever.
Small businesses can avoid or greatly limit late deliveries by putting in place a comprehensive fulfillment strategy. With this strategy in place, your company will have a high success rate for shipping online orders to customers not only during the holiday season but throughout the year.
However, the challenges of meeting holiday shipping deadlines during this time of year are well documented. Robert Gilbreath, CMO & VP of Partnerships at ShipStation, a web-based shipping solution provider points out the challenges.
In a press release announcing the company’s shipping infographic, Gilbreath said, “We understand how hectic operations can be around the holidays, so every year we work to provide ship-by dates as early as possible. The sooner e-commerce merchants can begin planning their own shipping schedule, the sooner they can prepare for the influx of holiday orders.”
ECommerce and the Increased Number of Packages
One of the biggest drivers for the increased number of packages is e-commerce. Both online and brick and mortar retailers are using their digital e-commerce platforms to ship items to customers.
This has increased the number of packages being shipped year-round, but especially during the holiday shopping season.
The USPS said it expected to deliver more than 850 million packages during the holiday season in 2017. Total in the 750 million from the UPS and another 400 million from FedEx, and it quickly adds up to tens of millions of packages every day.
Getting Ready for Holiday Season Shipping
One thing to remember about the holiday shopping season is, it is never too early to start getting ready for the rush.
The first thing you need to find out is all of the holiday shipping deadlines from the major carriers (you can see the graphs below for all three). You should also look into local carriers who might be working throughout the holidays for specialized deliveries and services.
Make this information available to all of your employees and they understand how important they are when packages are being shipped for a timely delivery.
In most cases, there will be a surcharge for working on certain days. If you are going to pass the cost to your customer let them know ahead of time to avoid any misunderstanding.
Once you have become familiar with the holiday shipping deadlines and fees for all the carriers, you can start planning how to handle the increased business and not get overwhelmed.
The key is to keep your promises and deliver. This is much better than overpromising and underdelivering because your customers will remember their experience (good or bad) long after the holiday season has come and gone.
2018 Holiday Shipping Deadlines
|USPS Services||Cutoff Date|
|Retail Ground||Friday, December 14, 2018|
|First Class Mail||Thursday, December 20, 2018|
|Priority Mail||Thursday, December 20, 2018|
|Priority Mail Express||Saturday, December 22, 2018|
|UPS Service||Cutoff Date|
|Ground||Friday, December 14, 2018|
|3 Day Select||Tuesday, December 18, 2018|
|2nd Day Air Services||Thursday, December 20, 2018|
|Next Day Air Services||Saturday, December 22, 2018|
|FedEx Service||Cutoff Date|
|SmartPost Services||Monday, December 10, 2018|
|Ground||Friday, December 14, 2018|
|Home Delivery||Monday, December 17, 2018|
|Express Saver||Wednesday, December 19, 2018|
|2Day Services||Thursday, December 20, 2018|
|Overnight Services||Friday, December 21, 2018|
ShipStation has created a handy infographic which you can print to keep an eye on those all-important dates.
Images: ShipStation, FedEx, UPS
Photo via Shutterstock