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Holiday Ecommerce Tip: Post Your Shipping Deadlines All Over Your Site

November 11th, 2021

The 2021 holiday sales season is going to be one for the record books. Deloitte is forecasting an 11% to 15% increase in 2021 holiday e-commerce sales compared with 2020. Online retail sales are projected to reach between $210 and $218 billion this holiday season.

While this is great news for online retailers, getting these orders from the warehouse to the buyer’s home can be very challenging, especially for orders submitted later in December.

Shipping Carriers Will Feel the Pressure
A huge chunk of this e-commerce delivery will be handled by the big three shipping carriers — USPS, UPS, and FedEx. All three are anticipating an extraordinarily busy holiday season. Just take a look at some recent news reports regarding parcel delivery:

  • UPS expects delivery demand during its peak season to exceed capacity by approximately five million pieces per day. The company is already adding capacity in advance, including two million square feet of additional sorting space and more cargo aircraft.
  • FedEx’s Ground network is rerouting more than 600,000 packages a day due to a shortage of workers. The carrier’s Home Delivery will deliver seven days a week during the holiday season.
  • USPS recently announced that some First Class Mail letters and packages will take longer to deliver as they are eliminating air delivery for the service.

Despite the shipping carriers ramping up their operations, delivery delays are inevitable and e-commerce sellers need to communicate shipping deadlines to their buyers in order to meet buyer expectations.

Communicate Shipping Deadlines Prominently On Your Site
The best way for your customers to avoid a shipping delay is to make sure they make purchases before the carrier cutoff dates. And there is no better way to create a sense of urgency than to make sure your customers see the actual shipping deadline dates everywhere on your site. From popups upon entering to a dedicated shipping page and in-cart alerts, promoting these shipping deadlines will help you create a positive customer experience.

Listed below are six suggestions of where you can effectively communicate your shipping deadlines:

#1 Create a dedicated holiday shipping page: Your customers should be able to find the shipping information they’re looking for easily. A great option is to create a unique “shipping deadline” page that you can guide all of your marketing messaging to that showcases all of the important shipping deadlines. It also allows you to easily show the delivery dates for Ground vs. Expedited shipping.

Example of Apple.com’s dedicated shipping deadline page in order to receive an iPhone before Dec. 24.

#2 Create a popup: While most people cannot stand popups, they can be very beneficial at communicating vital information about your products. Popups are hard to ignore (as you very well know!), so use this to your advantage. And since they’re relatively easy to add to the WordPress world, you can customize them for each date deadline.

Example of a popup window on MyRume.com highlighting the holiday shipping deadlines.

#3 Send a “last day to order” email: Remind everyone on your email list — including everyone who has abandoned their cart — about the last day they can order products to receive the package before the holidays. A best practice is to include a deadline section in your monthly newsletters, but a “last day to order” email may be just the thing to nudge indecisive customers to make the purchase.

Example of an email sent by KateSpade.com messaging the last day to receive free ground shipping.

#4 Add shipping questions to your FAQ page: Not only is this a straightforward way to answer your customers’ questions, but it will also help eliminate calls to your customer service center. Generally, customers like to find info themselves quickly and your FAQ page is a great place to list valuable shipping deadlines. Here are some shipping-relateds questions you could include:

• How much does shipping cost?
• Do you offer overnight delivery?
• When is the last day to purchase to receive a package by Dec. 24?
• When is the last day to purchase to receive free shipping?
• Do you ship to a PO Box?
• Which shipping carriers do you use?
• Do you ship to international addresses?
• How can I track my package?
• How quickly do you process orders at your warehouse from the time of order?
• I haven’t received my package, what do I do?

Example of Vistaprint.com highlighting shipping questions on their FAQ page.

#5 Add in-cart messaging: If a potential customer has already added a product to their cart, they’re well on the way to making a purchase. And there is no better way to help motivate a purchase than by posting the shipping deadlines front and center inside the shopping cart.

Example of a shipping deadline clock counting down inside a cart managed by WooCommerce.

#6 Promote express shipping as deadlines pass: Free and cheap shipping are the options that buyers want, and every research study proves that. But as ground deadlines pass, make sure you alert your customers that it’s still possible to get the products they want in time for the holidays by using expedited shipping.

Example of BarkBox.com highlighting Express shipping is still available after the Ground shipping deadline.

Carrier Deadlines for the 2021 Holiday Season
Here are the shipping deadlines by service level for 2021:

UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines
• Dec. 21 – UPS 3-Day Select
• Dec. 22 – UPS 2nd Day Air
• Dec. 23 – UPS Next Day Air
• For UPS Ground, check UPS.com for a date/quote

USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines
• Nov. 6 – APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) USPS Retail Ground service
• Dec. 9 – APO/FPO/DPO (all ZIP Codes) Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
• Dec. 15 – USPS Retail Ground service
• Dec. 16 – APO/FPO/DPO (except ZIP Code 093) USPS Priority Mail Express Military service
• Dec. 17 – First Class Mail (greeting cards, postcards and large envelopes)
• Dec. 17 – First Class Package Service (up to 15.99 ounces)
• Dec. 18 – Priority Mail
• Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express
Check the USPS website for details about shipping to/from Alaska and Hawaii.

FedEx Holiday Shipping Deadlines
• Dec. 15 – FedEx Home Delivery/FedEx Ground
• Dec. 21 – FedEx Express Saver
• Dec. 22 – FedEx 2Day
• Dec. 23 – FedEx 1Day Freight, FedEx Extra Hours
• Dec. 24 – FedEx SameDay

In summary, clearly communicate shipping information and deadlines on your site, and get ready for an ultra-busy holiday season!

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