As you prepare your e-commerce store for the busy holiday season, don’t forget to factor in your carrier deadlines. Clearly state all shipping deadlines for your store. If you offer free ground shipping, make sure you emphasize the last day to order to ensure delivery before Christmas. Presenting clear deadlines for ordering can help alleviate holiday stress for you and your customer.
Our partners at ShipStation have prepared a very nice downloadable chart with 2017 holiday shipping deadlines for USPS, FedEx and UPS. The deadline to ship via ground services for FedEx and UPS is Friday, December 15, 2017. USPS puts their cut off date for retail ground delivery on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
Mitigate Customer Dissatisfaction
From our experience, the biggest customer complaints during the holidays come from missing customers anticipated delivery days. It is crucial that you communicate shipping expectations and policies.
We work with our clients to meet the following guidelines, which have proven to help reduce customer confusion:
- Include fulfillment times to your shipping policies. For example, if it takes 2 days for your logistics partner to ship orders, be sure to factor that into shipping time spans.
- Build a page specific to holiday shipping deadlines and link to it from promotional graphics throughout your site. Never leave it to a customer to hunt for the information.
- Include shipping policies as a tab on your product detail page. Again, put shipping policies easily in reach of your customers.
- Add shipping policies to your invoice receipt emails. Remind customers of shipping times on the shipment notice emails, as well.
One area you particularly have to attend is when offering expedited service, such as Overnight or 2-day delivery. If you cannot ship out on the same day as the order, be sure you put that in bold text so your customers won’t be expecting their order tomorrow. If a customer pays a premium for expedited service, they will have certain expectations for delivery. You also need to clearly indicate when shipping methods will allow for Saturday delivery. And, include what days you ship. Some merchants can ship on Saturday; others cannot. And having a list of holidays when shipping is suspended is important.
Simplify Your Shipping
Sometimes, the various complexities of your product types will dictate the need for complex shipping calculations. LTL freight can especially be complicated. We prescribe the philosophy that simple is better. If you can offer a flat rate for shipping across most or all of your products, it helps customers easily factor in shipping costs as they shop. However, flat rates mean that you have to include clear disclaimers such as shipping outside the continental US or to Canada and Mexico. Often times, it’s best to quote exact rates based on your negotiates carrier rates.
Didn’t know carriers negotiate rates with merchants? Give us call. We can help you get competitive rates, sometimes as much as 60% or more off published rates. It will depend on a number of factors, such as volume, pick-up location, frequency, etc. However, in today’s market, carriers are eager to gain your business.
Shipping and logistics is one of the most complicated aspects of e-commerce. It’s not for the faint of heart, to be sure. And, mis-calculating your shipping or applying the wrong shipping policies can seriously cost you money.