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All Things Shipping | October 15, 2021

3 Ways to Prepare for the Holiday Shipping Crunch

No matter the time of year, shipping should never be viewed as a ‘set it and forget it’ function of your e-commerce fulfillment operations. Market fluctuations, service disruptions, and an increasingly fragmented ecosystem mean carrier opportunities and challenges will vary constantly. This is especially true during the peak BFCM and holiday season, so it’s crucial to pay extra attention to pricing changes, delays, shipping cut-off dates, and other factors that could impact your fulfillment process.

Here are three ways you can prepare and stay ahead of the holiday shipping crunch:

Educate yourself ahead of crunch time so you can identify which carriers are best equipped to help you meet your goals.

If you ship internationally vs exclusively domestically, for instance, you’ll want to explore a range of global carrier options to identify the best fit for your and your customers’ needs. Regional carriers may deliver faster at a lower cost to certain destinations, while popular national carriers may make more sense when shipping a certain weight to zones further away. Diversifying your carrier mix according to your specific products, goals, and customer preferences will allow you to offer more robust shipping options to consumers while also maximizing the bang for every fulfillment budget buck.

Stay informed of changes and disruptions, and maintain an agile mindset so you can reassess options when necessary.

We recommend keeping tabs on the following:

  • Price increases: Most carriers increase their rates ahead of the busy holiday season. This may be a one-time change at the beginning of the season, or several changes rolled out over weeks or months.
  • Delivery timelines: As demand and deliveries increase, resources get stretched thin. Carriers usually offer guidance around updated pick-up and delivery timelines as well as cut-off dates — you need to be aware of these timelines to make sure orders get out the door in time, and so you can communicate them to your own customers. We recommend getting ahead of customer stress or confusion by making sure these “Purchase By” deadlines are clear and prominent throughout your website, marketing emails, and other channels.
  • Service disruptions: As we’ve all had hammered into our heads over the past year and a half, it’s crucial to not only expect but anticipate the unexpected. Disruptions can occur for any carrier, for any number of reasons, and the only way to get your holiday shipments around these challenges is to make sure you’re aware of and prepared for them.

Harness the right tools and technology to efficiently make the best holiday shipping decisions for your business.

Comparing carrier rates across service-levels will help you determine which options are the best for your needs at any given time, but you need the right technology in place to do so in a way that’s both time and cost-effective.

Best-in-class shipping solutions such as Shippo enable e-commerce merchants to compare rates across a vast network of carriers in real time, and integrate with e-commerce platforms and logistics providers to sync order and inventory data for seamless end-to-end fulfillment. Features such as batch label printing, partial fulfillment, and automations — which apply predetermined rules to label purchases according to factors such as package weight, destination, or SKU — can cut the time it takes to ship in half. That time saved will come in extra handy as you scale your fulfillment operations during the busy holiday season.

For even more tips and best practices for how to stay ahead of the seasonal e-commerce rush, download the full BFCM Post-Purchase Playbook, published by ReturnLogic and featuring insights from the teams at Shippo, Gorgias, Whiplash, and more.

Heather Lohmann is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Shippo.

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