2023 Holiday Shipping: Your Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Delays

6 min read
2023 Holiday Shipping: Your Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Delays

The peak months for small businesses and online retailers have arrived. With the spike in online sales, it's vital to be well-prepared to avoid holiday shipping issues and keep customers satisfied.

Last year, shipments in the United States were valued at around $1.5 trillion. This number is expected to grow in the coming years, driven by the increasing popularity of e-commerce.

In a time when businesses heavily depend on services like USPS, which are bound to get overwhelmed, and where merchants have limited control over shipping times, prioritizing exceptional customer experiences becomes paramount.

In this article, we will delve into the holiday shipping deadlines for BFCM 2023 and share effective strategies you can implement to sidestep any potential holiday shipping delays, guaranteeing timely deliveries well before Christmas Day.

Holiday shipping deadlines 2023

Holiday shipping delays, particularly during the BFCM 2023 sale period, are something we all should anticipate. That's why it's essential to motivate customers to complete their holiday shopping sooner rather than later.

Drawing insights from past years, Adobe Holiday Predictions Research suggests that the final day for standard holiday shipping is December 11th. However, it's highly advisable to dispatch your packages even earlier, ideally before the shopping frenzy peaks during the Black Friday sales.

To help you stay ahead of the game, here are the ultimate holiday shipping deadlines from some major delivery services.

USPS Christmas shipping deadlines 2023

USPS Christmas shipping deadlines 2023
  • December 16 - Deadline for shipping with USPS Ground Advantage Service.
  • December 16 - Deadline for shipping via First-Class Mail.
  • December 18 -  Deadline for sending packages with Priority Mail Service.
  • December 20 - Deadline for shipping with Priority Mail Express Service.

UPS holiday shipping deadlines 2023

UPS holiday shipping deadlines 2023
  • December 19 - Deadline for shipping via UPS 3 Day Select.
  • December 21 - Deadline for shipping with UPS 2nd Day Air.
  • December 22 - Deadline for sending packages using UPS Next Day Air.

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines 2023

FedEx holiday shipping deadlines 2023
  • December 15 - Deadline for sending packages via FedEx Home Delivery and with FedEx Ground.
  • December 19 - Deadline for shipping via FedEx Express Saver and with 3 Day Freight.
  • December 20 - Deadline for sending packages via FedEx 2Day A.M., 2 Day Freight, and 2 Day.
  • December 21 - Deadline for shipping with 1 Day Freight, FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, and First Overnight.

TIP: Increase customer satisfaction by enabling real-time order tracking and shipping status updates.

5 strategies to keep customers satisfied this holiday season

This year's holiday season is set to closely resemble the previous one, with a 4.5% increase in total retail sales, reaching an impressive $1.328 trillion. As the demand surges, it inevitably presents numerous challenges for online merchants.

To excel in this year's holiday season sales, we've compiled five essential strategies aimed at delivering seamless experiences to customers and fostering stronger brand-customer relationships.

1. Start your holiday shopping campaigns ahead of time

Many shoppers are already on the lookout for excellent deals and ways to save money as they plan their Christmas gift-giving. In fact, 41% of customers prefer to do their holiday shopping with the brands they cherish. Capitalize on this opportunity by reaching out to your loyal customer base and aiding them in circumventing potential shipping and delivery delays in December.

holiday shopping campaigns

To enhance your holiday sales, consider sending personalized campaigns to your subscribers before the peak season kicks in:

  • Offer Early Shopper Discounts: Provide exclusive discounts to early shoppers, emphasizing the limited-time nature of the offer.
  • Provide Shipping Perks: Promote swift and free shipping for orders placed before the main holiday shipping season begins, enticing customers with the prospect of speedy delivery.
  • Create a Sense of Urgency: Remind shoppers about the importance of ordering early to avoid holiday shipping delays. Highlight limited inventory this year to underline the urgency of making timely purchases.
  • Highlight Subscriber Benefits: Emphasize the value that subscribers gain by being on your email and SMS lists. Consider offering incentives such as a complimentary gift with every pre-regular sale order to encourage more customers to opt in.

2. Simplify return process

During the holiday shopping rush, it's easy for merchants to overlook the importance of a hassle-free returns process. Surprisingly, a substantial 67% of shoppers make it a point to review the returns page before finalizing their purchases.

Acknowledging that returns are an inevitable aspect of providing a top-notch customer experience, it's crucial to be well-prepared. To excel in handling returns:

  • Dedicated Returns Policy Page: Ensure your website features a dedicated returns policy page, making it easy for customers to access information about your return process and policies.
  • Include Prepaid Return Labels and Packaging: Boost convenience by including prepaid return labels and packaging with the initial shipment. This considerate gesture equips customers with all they need for a straightforward return.
  • Offer Clear Return Instructions: Inside the package, provide crystal-clear instructions on how to initiate a return. These step-by-step guidelines will help customers navigate the return process with ease, ensuring a positive shopping experience.

3. Consider shipping insurance

Shipping always carries some level of risk, especially when delivery service providers are inundated with holiday packages. In fact, a staggering 80% of returns stem from items being damaged during transit.

In such situations, shipping insurance can be a lifesaver, especially if you're shipping high-value items. Here are some compelling reasons to consider shipping insurance:

  • Coverage for Damaged or Lost Packages: With shipping insurance, you're protected against the unfortunate event of your packages getting damaged or lost in transit, provided they were properly packed.
  • Reimbursement for Purchase Value and Shipping Costs: In the event of a mishap, shipping insurance ensures you're reimbursed not only for the item's value but also for the associated shipping expenses. This means you can send a replacement package to your customer without incurring additional costs.
  • Peace of Mind for You and Your Customers: Shipping insurance provides peace of mind to both you and your customers. It assures that even if something goes wrong during the delivery process, a swift resolution is available, maintaining a high level of service quality.
Shipping insurance can be a lifesaver

4. Reward your loyal customers

Customer loyalty is the lifeblood of any business. To make a lasting impression and retain your valued clients, consider offering them exclusive perks, especially during the holiday season.

Often, the best deals seem reserved for new customers, which can be disheartening for long-time patrons. To truly impress your clients, segment your customer database based on their history and spending, and create a tailored campaign just for them. Utilize email and social media to deliver personalized messages with unique discount codes, offering incentives like free delivery, complimentary subscriptions, or significant discounts based on your business model.

As one year ends and another begins, customers tend to reassess their choices. To prevent them from seeking alternatives, seize this opportunity to secure their loyalty. By monitoring your customer retention rate year-over-year, you can gauge how effectively you're impressing and retaining your clients.

5. Prioritize customer support and shipping clarity

With the holidays approaching, it's vital to keep customers informed about potential shipping changes and equip your support team to handle the expected increase in queries.

To manage the surge in traffic and handle holiday shipping uncertainties effectively:

  • Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate which products will be delivered on time and which may face delays.
  • Encourage Express Shipping: Offer the option of express shipping for last-minute orders, giving customers a quicker delivery choice.
  • Include Shipping Details in Confirmations: Send order confirmations with expected shipping times to manage customer expectations.
  • Offer Order Tracking: Enable real-time order tracking and send regular updates, keeping customers informed about their shipment's progress.
  • Local Pickup and Delivery Options: Introduce online order pickup in-store and local delivery services, providing convenient alternatives for nearby shoppers.
  • Update FAQs: Keep your FAQ page current with common questions from past holiday seasons.
  • Accessible Customer Support: Make it easy for customers to reach your support team. Besides displaying your email, utilize contact forms and live chat for quick and accessible communication. Be transparent about response times to manage customer expectations effectively.

Final thoughts

The holiday season can be a whirlwind for both merchants and customers. However, anticipating the unexpected puts you ahead of the game.

Transparency and effective communication are at the forefront of successfully navigating the increasing demand for online sales, especially during BFCM 2023. By nurturing relationships with your loyal customers, dedicating extra effort to enhance your customer support department, and closely monitoring your delivery processes to swiftly address any hiccups, you'll not only keep your customers happy but also be well-prepared for the upcoming holiday season and BFCM.


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