Holiday Magic: How to get ahead of peak season shipping and fulfillment delays

KOMAL PURI Dec 08, 2022 • 4 Min read
How to Avoid Shipping and Fulfillment Delays

Whether you're a business owner preparing to ship your products to customers, or a consumer looking to get your order in on time, it's important to be aware of the holiday shipping and fulfillment delays that are common during this busy season.

holiday shipping and fulfillment delays

According to ROI Revolution, holiday season retail sales in the US are expected to reach $1.30 trillion in 2022 compared to last year's $1.21 trillion.

That means you have a chance to set record-breaking sales for your business this quarter, so don’t let shipping and fulfillment delays take away from this great opportunity for your eCommerce store's success!

Understanding what to expect and planning ahead can help you avoid any frustrating surprises and ensure that your holiday shipments go off without a hitch.

In this article, we'll outline a few strategies you can use to stay on top of your orders (and make sure your customers are content in the knowledge that their loved ones will be receiving and opening their gifts on time.)

Plan Ahead

1. Map out your shipping strategy 

Before the busy season, you want to have your shipping strategy figured out and well-documented. Laying out the whole process in one place is a great way to work out any problems and determine how long shipping will take. It can also help you identify areas you can simplify or streamline–when it gets busy, you’ll be thanking yourself for those 15 extra minutes! 

Mapping out your shipping strategy includes planning the different types of shipping you want to offer, such as free, local or international. For each option, you need to know all the details so you can communicate them to your customers. 

Bonus tip: If you're worried about holiday shipping delays, consider offering expedited shipping as an option for your customers. This way, they can choose to pay a little extra to receive their order faster.

If you use fulfillment services, reach out to your 3PL partner to make sure you both understand the steps and are on the same page, and see how they are preparing for the rush of orders. 

2. Prepare for the influx of holiday traffic

Knowing that holiday retail sales are on the rise year after year, it's important to be aware of potential delays when it comes to the influx of online holiday traffic. 

Fulfillment Services online holiday traffic

If you're not prepared, your website could crash from the sheer volume of people trying to access it at once.

To avoid this, make sure you have enough web hosting capacity to handle the increased traffic and consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to help distribute the load.

3. Forecast your orders 

Be sure to take into account the forecasted size and volume of orders when you're calculating your shipping needs. 

It's not unusual for people to order more items during the holidays, so you'll want to make sure you have enough products and packing materials on hand to accommodate the demand. 

It helps to look back at your order volume from last year’s holiday season and complete your projections for this year’s orders based on your growth rate. If you're using fulfillment services, be sure to communicate your expected holiday volume increase in advance so they can plan accordingly– and remember to find out what commitments they can make so you can avoid disappointing your customers.  

4. Prepare orders

Another way to avoid holiday shipping delays is to start preparing orders in advance. This way, when the holiday rush hits, you'll already have a headstart on fulfilling orders.

eCommerce Fulfillment Services

This could include pre-packaging items or bulk-ordering labels, depending on your particular product. 

If you’re not already working with a 3PL partner, talk to your fulfillment service provider as they may be able to store your products in their warehouse and ship them out as soon as they receive an order. This can be a great way to save time and avoid delays.

Ship Early 

1. Figure out your carrier's delivery schedule

To avoid any holiday shipping delays, it's important to know when your carrier will be making their last pickup before the holidays.

For USPS, FedEx, and UPS, this is typically December 21st. If you're shipping via one of these carriers, you'll want to make sure your orders are sent out by this date.

eCommerce fulfillment Shipping services

Whichever shipping service you use, talk to your eCommerce fulfillment services partner about cut-off dates. They’ll be able to provide you with an estimated shipping time based on the carrier you choose, so you can factor in these deadlines when making your delivery commitments and ensure that your customers are aware of them as well. 

2. Double-check the delivery address and postal code

It’s essential to ensure that the delivery address and postal code are accurate before you ship. If there are any errors, your shipment could be delayed or even lost. 

EasyPost data shows that 4.7% of the time a customer fills out an eCommerce form, they make an error. For a business shipping a million packages a year, that's 47,000 errors made on eCommerce shipping forms. To avoid this, make sure the address is verified and accurate.

3. Use a tracking number to follow your package's progress

If you're using a shipping carrier that offers to track, be sure to take advantage of it! This can help you keep tabs on your shipment and ensure that it's on track to arrive on time.

shipment Tracking

It’s important to save your customer the stress of wondering if they’ll be receiving their gifts on time for the holidays; when you use fulfillment services, your 3PL partner will be able to provide you with tracking information for all your orders.

Get Help From a Fulfillment Partner

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed about the upcoming holiday season, don’t fret. 

eCommerce fulfillment services can help you with everything from storing your products to shipping them out to your customers. If you’re still managing your own fulfillment, you can imagine the difference they’ll make when you’re already overwhelmed with the busyness of the holidays. 

Fulfillment Partner services

According to a survey from Inmar, 78% of retail businesses increased their eCommerce budget in 2021, which is telling of the continued importance of online sales and the benefits eCommerce fulfillment services can have.

Partnering with a fulfillment partner frees up your time, letting you focus on other aspects of your business (or enjoying the holidays with your family). It also ensures you maintain a high level of service to your clients, with fast, efficient, and dependable shipping. 

Don’t let the holiday rush ruin what can be a wonderful time of the year for you. Look into getting some help with an instant quote from eShipper!

Final Thoughts

The holiday season is a busy one for the eCommerce industry, with so many people shopping for gifts for family and friends. 

You have the chance to turn your holiday shoppers into loyal customers– but first, you need to provide them with a positive customer experience and stay on top of shipping and fulfillment delays that are common around this time of year. 

By following these tips, you can set yourself up for success and be thankful for the abundance of business coming your way. 

Get started now, so you can enjoy a smooth and successful holiday season this year. Cheers to your success!

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