Thursday, October 29, 2009

Start Thinking About Holiday Shipping Deadlines

I know we still all have Halloween on our minds, but November is right around the corner and we need to start prepping for the busy holiday season. To get ahead of the game, one of the most important things to do it to start setting your shipping deadlines. This will also enable you to start stocking up on Holiday themed merchandise/crafts/etc as well as create or stock your best sellers.

The USPS does not have their recommended deadlines up yet, but that doesn't mean you can't set your own. Shipping gets notoriously hectic during the holidays, and in order to avoid the extremely long lines and cranky people at the post office, as well as impatient customers, here are some tips!

  • USE FREE CARRIER PICK UP SERVICE FROM THE POST OFFICE. You can easily sign up online for a free mail pick up, which will happen the day after requesting the pick up. A carrier will come to your home or business and pick up your mail. It all must be ready to go with postage paid & stamps on letters. This is a great service and will save you time, especially if you ship a lot of items.
  • CONSIDER BUYING POSTAGE ONLINE. If you accept Paypal, it's super easy to pay, print and ship an order through PayPal! There is a link to follow which leads you through the steps. You will need a postage scale, packing materials and tape. It's very quick and easy and gives you discounted delivery confirmation on orders in the USA. One of the downfalls is that you have limited service, for example you can't ship First Class International. I'll offer a tutorial on shipping through Paypal later.

  • RESEARCH OTHER SERVICES. If you don't use or like PayPal, there are other shipping services like Endicia.com and Stamps.com that charge a monthly usage fee. If you ship a lot you may be interested in one of these services. You basically download a program that you use on your computer. You will need your own scale to weigh packages. They are both easy to use if you know your way around a computer. You just enter in the shipping information, weight and shipping service and you're ready to go. I've used both and I personally favor Endicia. You also get shipping discounts and can ship all kinds of USPS services including First Class, Priority, Express and International Shipping. You can even fill out your customs forms (yay!).

  • CONSIDER SHIPPING UPGRADES AND HAVE PRICING READY. You're always going to have someone contacting you three days before Christmas Eve telling you they'll give you their right arm in order to pay for the quickest shipping possible to get their gifts in time. State your standard shipping options, rates and approximate shipping time. If a customer wants an item quicker, consider offering Priority Mail or Express if you ship through the Post Office, or a quicker service through UPS or Fedex like Next Day Shipping. These quicker services can be expensive, exspecially if an item is heavy and/or shipping far away from you. If you don't want to go through the trouble of offering a quicker shipping service, be sure to state this on your website or where ever you sell.
  • STOCK UP NOW! If you run a mail order service, have a business from home, or make your own handmade items that you sell through the mail, it's time to get your inventory stocked. Make sure your best sellers are ready to ship. Don't forget to take great pictures of your items and list them accurately for success this holiday season.

  • CUSTOM ITEMS NEED CUSTOM DEADLINES. If you make custom items, be sure to set an order/payment deadline on them as well as a shipping deadline. If it takes you 2 weeks to make, be sure your customer knows they must place it no longer than the 1st of December in order to receive it before Christmas.

  • GIFT WRAPPING. Some people hate wrapping presents, so if it's something you love to do, you can offer it as an extra. People love this service to be FREE, so if possible, offer it as a freebee, but if you can't, it's OK to charge a few dollars for gift wrapping. Start publicising now that you offer it, and be sure you have the supplies and space.

  • INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING OPTIONS. If you ship Internationally, you know that shipping times can vary. Most items I ship go First Class International, and I usually request customers get their orders in during the last week of November to ensure their items make their destination. If they need quicker delivery, Priority International is also an option and there is some flat rate envelopes and boxes to save on money if the items qualify.

I think this is a good starting point and hopefully helps you get ready for the holidays. If you have your own business and do a lot of shipping, or maybe just sell occasionally online, I hope these tips come in handy. As someone who ships A LOT for work and for fun, as well as loves shopping online, I know what it's like to be on the shipping end and be the one salivating over my mailbox waiting for a box of goodies to arrive.

If you have any questions, or anything you'd like covered in this blog, please feel free to e-mail me, theklingster(at)gmail(DOT)com.

Otherwise, thanks for reading (and yay for me getting this up before November!!)

2 comments:

LoveMeKnot Creations said...

great tips, thank you :)

HK said...

Thanks for reading!