Important Tips for Last-Minute Shipping & Fulfillment on Holidays

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 4 min read

2021 is predicted to be a marvelous opportunity for merchants to sell their products. Research from Deloitte claims that from November to January,  holiday sales will be up to $1.3 trillion, with an 11%-to-15% growth in e-commerce sales.

Unfortunately, those statistics aren’t really good news to all people. Higher volumes also mean riskier order fulfillment and delivery, especially when there are tons of things that might prevent products from being shipped to customers, such as shipping strikes, limited containers, or labor shortage… 

If you’re worried about that, check the article below! Here we will provide you with some important tips for last-minute shipping and fulfillment for the upcoming holidays.

Tip 1. Notice the Deadlines of Shipping Carriers

No matter what size your business is, it’s still important that you ship your products to customers within the expected timeframe. While it’s impossible to predict shipping carrier delays, you can somehow limit those incidents by meeting carrier deadlines and keeping updated on any announcements they issue. 

Here are the shipping deadlines for this holiday season. Remember to make delivery before those dates and be frank with customers if you (unfortunately) miss the deadlines.

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Tip 2. Streamline the Fulfillment and Shipping Process

After reviewing the shipping deadlines, what you need to do next is prioritize your order fulfillment. With the orders being organized and prioritized, products could be shipped to your customers faster and within the deadlines.

If you are operating an online shop in Shopify, you can add tags (which indicate the shipping carrier and its deadline) to your orders. After that, use the orders list to filter by the deadline, then choose multiple orders and fulfill. You can also prioritize unfulfilled orders by organizing by order date (oldest -> newest) or by delivery method (expedited/ local/ standard).

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Tip 3. Utilize Local Pickup and Local Delivery 

Many customers have the habit of buying things at the very last minute of the holiday or waiting until December 24 to add “little things” into their shopping cart. Of course, it’s impossible to sell products for those people if you too rely on shipping carrier deadlines. Expedited shipping methods could be used as the last resort, but not many merchants can afford this kind of shipping. 

If this scenario keeps happening from year to year, you can consider local delivery and local curbside pickup. Shop merchants can connect to their nearby last-minute customers, while customers can support business and save lots of money for shipping costs. A win-win for both sides, isn’t it?

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Tip 4: Facilitate Order Changes

Many shoppers make mistakes while they shop online. They might click “Pay” without adding a discount code, they just forget to put an item into their cart, or they just simply pick the wrong T-shirt size. As an online merchant, you can use order notifications to let customers view what they purchased after checking out. Order notifications can also make customers aware of their order’s fulfillment process, like when the order is received, or when it’s delivered to them.

To make it better, you can even fix the order before it’s fulfilled. Shopify’s Order Editing allows online merchants to add or remove items, apply discounts, or fix quantities of existing items. After you make the change, the platform will refund shoppers and automatically notify them about the change in order. 

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Tip 5: Get Ready for A Flux of Return

Compared to another time of the year, the return rate over holidays is 10% higher and normally falls in December, January, and February. Among that, the industry which experiences the highest return rate is apparel.

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To get yourself ready for the return season, try to be familiar with Managing Returns in Shopify. Shopify’s returns show you return reasons and send an automatic email about return shipping labels to your customers. After that, you can track shipping, issue a refund, and restock the inventory for your online store.