The holiday shopping season is a make-or-break time of year for eCommerce store owners. When it comes to whipping up a recipe for success, there are a lot of ingredients to remember – like holiday promos, gift guides, inventory planning, and much more. With so much on your plate, it's not uncommon to forget to sprinkle in some of those key ingredients. Luckily, CAKE is here to help you avoid a half-baked holiday marketing strategy with this can’t-miss seasonal essential: shipping deadlines!
While shipping deadlines may seem frugal, they’re the little extra spice your holiday strategy needs to deliver sweet results. Why? Well, most online stores are more focused on building buzz and web traffic instead of how they plan to get orders to customers’ doorsteps. In turn, this creates a situation where you can easily have a lot of unhappy customers who are disappointed when the gift they ordered doesn’t arrive quite on time.
Thankfully, with a little bit of planning and communication, you can continue to delight shoppers. Here’s a taste of how holiday shipping deadlines can help your brand develop a chef’s kiss marketing strategy to take on the most wonderful time of year!
2022 Holiday Shipping
Before we discuss how to make this holiday shopping season merry and bright, we need to first cover the shipping deadlines. A few of the most important holiday shipping deadlines to remember are USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
USPS Recommended Shipping Dates (for Delivery Before December 25th)
- Retail Ground: Saturday, December 17th, 2022
- First Class Mail: Saturday, December 17th, 2022
- Priority Mail: Monday, December 19th, 2022
- Priority Mail Express: Friday, December 23rd, 2022
UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines (for Delivery Before December 23rd)
- Ground: Wednesday, December 14th, 2022
- 3-Day Select: Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
- 2nd Day Air Services: Wednesday, December 21st, 2022
- Next Day Air Services: Friday, December 23rd, 2022
FedEx Holiday Shipping Deadlines
- Ground Economy: Thursday, December 8th, 2022
- Home Delivery: Wednesday, December 14th, 2022
- Express Saver: Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
- 2 Day Services: Wednesday, December 21st, 2022
- Overnight Services: Thursday, December 22nd, 2022
- Same Day: Friday, December 23rd, 2022
Of course, it is important to remember that these are just basic guidelines for getting orders fulfilled and sent to customers so that they are delivered before Christmas Day. There are always extenuating circumstances, including weather and carrier issues, that can cause these dates to fluctuate. If in doubt, contact the carrier directly for details.
How to Use Holiday Shipping Deadlines to Your Advantage
Now that we know what our actual deadlines for holiday shipping are, let’s look at a few ways you can use them to your advantage. Shipping should always be considered a major part of your marketing strategy, and there are certain benefits to including information in your various campaigns.
For example, it’s always a good idea to add basic marketing verbiage about free or flat-rate shipping on individual product pages. This is a great way to advertise that you offer this service while shoppers are calculating the total cost of the product. Remember, some people who shop online make note of what they’re spending for each friend or loved one as part of an overall budget.
You can also give last-minute shoppers the feeling of comfort and security by making deadlines clear. Utilize things like popups and email marketing campaigns to remind customers that they have to order before a certain day and time to receive their package before Christmas Day. While this type of urgency does sound like it would have the opposite effect, there’s a good chance that knowing right away whether or not it’s worth it to place the order will make the process less stressful.
Make sure to also always include shipping deadlines in all of your emails, both transactional and promotional. The more you can press urgency with your customer base, the greater the chance you'll have that these deadlines are being met. You can also stand above the competition by offering free expedited shipping when final ship dates are getting down to the wire. This is a great way to give customers who haven't purchased yet an advantage to buy from your store versus another one that's charging a huge amount for fast last-minute shipping.
Want to win over local customers? Consider offering same-day shipping to shoppers in your area! This means your customers would get their orders within a few hours of ordering. There are certain limitations to this process—including being limited to the same metropolitan area—but it does act as a great bonus for any other sales.
Why Cutoff Times Are Important for Holiday Shipping Deadlines
It’s also important to remember order cutoff times when advertising shipping deadlines. Why? You want to be able to give your team a chance to fulfill and pack the order accordingly.
For example, say a customer expects FedEx Overnight Services but places their order at 11:59 PM on December 23rd. See the problem here? There’s no chance for you to get the item pulled, packed, and ready to go to FedEx if timeframes cut that close.
In this case, it’s better to choose cutoff times and clearly state them on your eCommerce website accordingly. Think about what your staff can handle and then use limitations such as 9:00 AM or noon, or even 3:00 PM. Again, clarity is super important here and helps your shoppers know exactly what to expect.
Other Ways to Maximize Your Returns on Investments and Make Shipping Easier
There are other ways you can maximize your return on investment and make the shipping process easier. For example, make plans to spread your inventory out among warehouses in different regions to make the actual cost and time of shipping lower. You can also opt to work with a third-party fulfillment company temporarily for the season to help alleviate some of the hassles associated with handling the task in-house.
What To Do Once the Holiday Shipping Date Has Passed
One question many eCommerce store owners have is what they should be doing once the holiday shipping date has passed. The great news is that you don’t have to stop selling!
Instead, offer instantly downloadable or delivery by email gift cards as an alternative. You can also opt to run specials after the holiday delivery period where shoppers’ patience is rewarded with an extra ten or twenty percent off their order. There are multiple ways to make campaigns like this work, so feel free to put your special touch on this and make the recipe for success your own.
These tips are just the icing on the cake when it comes to mastering the shipping strategy for the 2022 holiday shopping season. Our knowledgeable and talented team here at CAKE is ready to answer any questions you have or help you come up with a plan for your unique online store. Please contact us today for further details.