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  • Kimberly Reuter

2020 Holiday Shipageddon


There has been SO MUCH coverage on the 2020 shipping crisis and the potential impact on the holiday shipping season. If you haven’t figured it out already, let me tell you it will be shipping hell.


Shipping networks are currently operating at 110% plus. Months ago, FedEx and UPS stopped taking new enterprise clients; and have already started communicating about delays, limiting package pickups, and abolishing ground network loopholes.


While all this is excellent information; and certainly adds to the stress of running a DTC business in the middle of a global pandemic…during holiday season, what are you supposed to do about it?? Here is the counsel I have been giving my ecommerce clients; large and small, from start-up to enterprise.


Ship EARLY!

I cannot stress this enough. Ship early! Ship early! Ship early! The last day of Christmas order cutoff, unless you are Amazon or running your own fleet, will not be 12/23 this year. The likelihood of those packages arriving by Christmas is almost zero, 1-day shipping or not.


The advice to my clients is the last day of shipping for arrival by Christmas is 12/18. I know it is a week in advance!! Crazy! And yes, that includes 2-day shipping. Of course, you can ship later. Yes, the packages may arrive just fine. However, the risk this holiday season is higher than ever, the number of new ecommerce businesses is booming, and customers are edgy. A missed delivery will very likely result in a lost customer. Why risk it?


Fast Forward Sales and Promos

If your business relies on holiday sales to meet annual goals…START NOW. This year more than ever, starting promos and sales earlier in the season is a must. Delivery delays have expedited the sales calendar more than anything. The earlier your customer can shop and order, the sooner you can ship, thus increasing the positive customer experience.


Most major retailers have expedited their holiday promotion schedules already and are shifting how they deliver. Walmart has already announced they will not be open on Thanksgiving Day, historically one of the company's biggest shopping days. In-store Black Friday deals are shifting to online during Cyber week and before. In short, holiday promotions are starting now. Yours should be too.


Communicate Often

If you didn’t get the message already…let me repeat. The 2020 holiday shipping season will be unprecedented. You can bet your last Santa cookie that packages will get lost, delayed, and damaged. It is just going to happen.


While customers may tangentially understand that UPS, USPS, and FedEx are struggling, they don’t expect their packages to miss a delivery promise. As I often preach through blogs, interviews, and podcasts, delivery promise matters! Customers make future buying decisions almost exclusively based on delivery performance.


This sounds like a no-win deathmatch. After all, what control do you have, especially as a small to medium business? The truth is you can predict, play the offense, and communicate. First and foremost, tell the customer you expect delays and encourage them to buy early. Manage and monitor your packages like you never have before...Are they moving? Are there early signs of missing a delivery date? And lastly, alert your customer before they alert you. Forcing your customer to be the “logistics manager” is the worst possible scenario. Monitor, manage, and message. It’s that simple.


Shipageddon is upon us. This global pandemic has irreversibly impacted ecommerce. While the most significant shipping pain is expected to start in the next few weeks, carriers have been overloaded for months and expect to operate at max capacity for the near future. Forward-thinking, early action, and proactive communication will future proof your DTC business. Start NOW.

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