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

November 11th, 2021 Comments off

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!

Holiday E-commerce Sales Tip: Start Promotions Early in 2021

October 29th, 2021 Comments off

As the country slowly emerges from the COVID pandemic and the end of 2021 approaches, people are eager to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. Life is back to normal in many places, and that’s excellent news for online sellers! To capitalize on this moment, online retailers should start your holiday sales promotions early this year. Continue reading to learn why.

2021 E-commerce Sales Are Already Up 9% Over 2020
The numbers over recent months clearly indicate that shoppers are ready to buy online. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy index, consumers spent $541 billion online between January 2021 and August 2021. That’s 9% more than the same period last year and 58% more than 2019.

Online sales in November and December are expected to grow at least 7% from a year ago. And the National Retail Federation is expecting a record year for both online and brick and mortar sales in Q4 2021.

Problems in the Supply Chain
Q4 does have some challenges. Cargo ships sit offshore, waiting to be unloaded. There’s a shortage of truck drivers and warehouse workers. Railroad terminals are backed up with goods waiting for transport. Shipping carriers are preparing to deal with a record number of e-commerce packages. Seemingly every link in the supply chain is experiencing its own problems.

Because of continuing supply chain problems, shoppers were already being advised in late summer to buy early. Both the shortage of goods and the extended time required for shipping and delivery mean that last-minute shoppers may be left without much to give at holiday time.

The Answer – Run Your Holiday Sales Promotions Early
Retailers, both online and brick and mortar, typically have their biggest sales promotions of the year during Thanksgiving weekend for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Green Monday to kick start their holiday sales. But 2021 is different – e-commerce sellers MUST start encouraging buyers to purchase early this year. And there is no better way to get sales moving than by running those Black Friday deals early this year. Getting customers to buy early will get product into their hands quickly while eliminating last minute inventory or delivery issues.

4 Easy Sales Promotional Ideas
Given the uniqueness of this year’s holiday season, how can you promote your products? Here are a few sales promotions that work well:

#1 Start an abandoned cart email campaign: An abandoned cart occurs when a potential buyer views your store and places a product in the shopping cart, but then leaves your site without making the purchase. Stats show that 7 out of 10 customers will leave a store shipping cart without making a purchase. Recapturing these customers could equate to big revenue. And a great way to recapture these customers is to use a personalized email highlighting the products that are still waiting in the shopping cart for them. You can even help give them a nudge by offering a coupon code for free shipping or a percentage off the sale.

Example of Casper.com email that is sent to customers who abandon the cart without making a purchase.

#2 Create coupons and discount codes: Speaking of coupon codes, this is a great method to help provide an immediate incentive to the buyer to make a purchase. Ideas include free shipping, 10% or 20% off the retail price, Buy One Get One and flash sales (short sales, typically for a few hours). Buyers can easily input the coupon code during check out and have the discount applied to their order in the cart. Nearly all shopping cart platforms allow you to easily make coupon codes. Don’t forget – along with posting coupon codes on the site, advertising and in email, you can also send them out via SMS text messages.

Example of JCPenney sending an SMS text to customers that highlights a promo code “CYBTXT” for 20% off.

#3 Bundle Best Selling Products with High Margin Products: Bundling products is a great way to increase average order value. The idea is to package a few different products together as a “bundle” and then sell the bundle package at a lower price than if you bought them all separately. For reference, the combo at your local fast food restaurant is a great example of how bundling increases the average order value. Typically, you want to make sure the bundle package all has complimentary products (i.e. cell phone case to go with the cell phone) and includes a high selling product (to catch the buyer’s attention) along with a high margin product (to help you make profit).

Example of Best Buy bundling a Canon camera, light and microphone at a reduced price.

#4 Run after-Christmas sales to increase profits: Don’t forget, the holiday sales don’t need to stop just because December 25th has come and gone. Retailers often have extra inventory from products that were not as popular as you anticipated. Plus, some buyers could have received cash or gift cards for Christmas. A good after-Christmas sale gives them a opportunity to use those gift cards!

Example of Morton Golf Sales promoting an after-Christmas sale for up to 15% off with a coupon code

Good luck and happy sales this holiday season!

Introducing Rate Advisor: Compare Shipping Rates Across Carriers

October 25th, 2021 Comments off

Rate Advisor is a new tool built into Stamps.com that helps you find the lowest shipping rate for every package you ship. The feature lets you instantly compare shipping rates and delivery times across different carriers using all of your relevant package information such as destination address, package weight and box size.

Instantly compare rates and delivery times across different carriers and services.

  • Filter by carrier, delivery speed, price and more
  • Simply select the best option and print your label
  • Never overpay for shipping again
  • Includes all of our amazing discounted rates from USPS and UPS
  • Built right into Stamps.com, nothing to download
  • Super easy to use

How to Use Rate Advisor from the MAIL tab:

#1 In the MAIL Tab, prepare a shipment. Enter the Name and Ship to Address, Weight, and Dimensions, just as you would for any shipment. Then, open the Service or Carrier drop down menu and Click “Compare Services and Rates…”

#2 Rate Advisor will open in a new window. The shipment information (destination city, weight and box size) you entered is displayed at the top of the window. The Shipping Options and Carriers you have enabled are displayed, with the lowest price at the top.

Rate Advisor offers 3 different ways to display Shipping Options:

  • Recommended: our default setting for the most compatible shipping options
  • Cheapest: the lowest cost but the package may take longer to arrive
  • Fastest: the most expensive option but gets your package to the destination the quickest. Great for Expedited Shipping.

#3 Select your shipping choice (between Recommended, Cheapest or Fastest) at the top of Rate Advisor window. A new window will appear to confirm your shipping service choice and carrier. Select “Yes” or “No.”

#4 After confirmation, your selected Carrier and Service are automatically displayed in your ship order and you are ready to print your shipping label.

How to use Rate Advisor from the ORDERS tab:

#1 In ORDERS, prepare a Manual Order. Enter the Name and Ship To Address, Package Weight, and Box Dimensions, just as you would for any shipment. Then, open the Carrier drop down menu and Click “Compare Services and Rates…”

#2 Rate Advisor will open in a new window. The shipment information (destination city, weight and box size) you entered is displayed at the top of the window. The Shipping Options with Carriers you have enabled and Services are displayed, with the lowest price at the top.

Similar to the MAIL tab, RATE ADVISOR offers 3 different ways to display Shipping Options:

  • Recommended: our default setting for the most compatible options.
  • Cheapest: the lowest cost but the package may take longer to arrive.
  • Fastest: the most expensive option but gets your package to the destination the quickest. Great for Expedited Shipping.

#3 Select your shipping choice (between Recommended, Cheapest or Fastest) at the top of Rate Advisor window. A new window will appear to confirm your shipping service choice and carrier. Select “Yes” or “No.”

#4 After confirmation, your selected Carrier and Service are automatically displayed in your ship order and you are ready to print your shipping label.

Start using Rate Advisor today to find the lowest shipping rate to meet your delivery requirements!

Free USPS Priority Mail Boxes To Become Smaller

October 15th, 2021 Comments off

The USPS has announced they will be reducing the size of some free Priority Mail boxes and envelopes. Two Priority Mail envelopes and six Priority Mail boxes will be getting smaller, with the reductions ranging from 1/8″ smaller in length on the Priority Mail Tyvek envelope to 2 1/2″ smaller in width on the Priority Mail Regional Rate Box B.

The USPS states these changes are being made to help process Priority Mail boxes and envelopes more efficiently on their sorting equipment, reducing the need for manual package sortation.

Priority Mail Box Size Changes

ItemServiceUSPS Store SKUOLD Outside DimensionsNEW Outside DimensionsSummary of Change
EnvelopePriority Mail Tyvek EnvelopeEP1411-5/8” (W) x 15-1/8” (L)  11-5/8” (W) x 15” (L)  Length of envelope is getting smaller by 1/8"
EnvelopePriority Mail APO/FPO Tyvek Envelope (Mili-Pac)MILIPAC11-5/8” (W) x 15-1/8” (L)  11-5/8” (W) x 15” (L)  Length of envelope is getting smaller by 1/8"
BoxPriority Mail Large Flat Rate BoxLFRB6” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 12-1/4” (L)  6” (H) x 12” (W) x 12-1/4” (L)Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller
BoxPriority Mail APO/FPO Large Flat Rate BoxMILIFRB6” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 12-1/4” (L) 6” (H) x 12” (W) x 12-1/4” (L)Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller
BoxPriority Mail0-1092 Box 2-7/8” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 13-11/16” (L)2-7/8” (H) x 12” (W) x 13-11/16” (L)Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller
BoxPriority Mail0-1095 Box3-1/8” (H) x 12-1/2” (W) x 15-5/8” (L)3-1/8” (H) x 12’ (W) x 15” (L)Width of box is getting 1/2" smaller, length getting 5/8" smaler
BoxPriority Mail Regional Rate Box BRRB-B23” (H) x 14-1/2” (W) x 16-1/4” (L)3” (H) x 12” (W) x 15” (L)Width of box is getting 2 1/2" smaller, length is getting 1 1/4" smaler
BoxPriority MailBox 78-1/2” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 12-1/4” (L) 8-1/2” (H) x 12” (W) x12-1/4” (L) Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller

Online retailers who have extra stock of the older box sizes will still be able to use the USPS free shipping supplies until their boxes and envelopes are exhausted. The new box sizes started shipping from the USPS.com site in late September 2021.

Categories: USPS News Tags:

How to Input VAT/IOSS Numbers Into Customs Forms

October 1st, 2021 Comments off

Starting July 1, 2021, all commercial goods destined for the European Union (EU) are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT). This applies to deliveries of any value, including those below 22 euros (estimated $26).  To help online retailers manage this tax collecting process, the EU member countries created the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), an electronic portal for online retailers to comply with the new VAT rules.  After registering for an IOSS  account, you will receive an IOSS tax identification number which should be inputted on all Customs Forms for your packages.

First 90 Days – How is the IOSS Working?
Stamps.com Customer Care has been monitoring the deliveries to the EU very closely since July 1, 2021.  Overall, most packages have included the new IOSS information and packages are being delivered.   We have discovered some shippers are inputting VAT/IOSS information incorrectly in the Stamps.com software interface, which is creating unnecessary duty and tax bills for shipments. 

Customer Care has also noticed many shippers are NOT inputting IOSS numbers on low value orders, which is now required.  This action pushes the responsibility of delivery fees, duties and taxes to the package recipient.  If the recipient does not want to pay these extra charges, the package will be returned to sender.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR INPUTTING VAT/IOSS NUMBERS INTO CUSTOMS FORMS USING STAMPS.COM

Stamps.com Software

1) From the “International” tab, input the delivery address and package details.
2) In the “Customs” section, please click on the “Edit Form”.
3) Input your IOSS tax identification number in the designated field.  Finish by clicking “Add Item” (on far right side) and then “OK”

Stamps.com Website

#1 Input the international delivery address and select the carrier info for the label.
#2 In the “Contents” section, click on “Customs Form” button.
#3 Input your IOSS tax identification number in the designated field. Finish inputting the item description and click “Add item”.

Important information to remember:

  • For orders being delivered to the United Kingdom, “IOSS #” field will be labeled “VAT #” in the Customs Form.
  • If you are selling through a marketplace, such as eBay or Amazon, be sure to include that marketplace’s IOSS number in the Customs Form. If you do not, the receiving EU country will assume VAT has not been collected.

Learn more about the European VAT requirements that started July 1, 2021.

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