Tips for selling and shipping during a busy holiday season

Tips for selling and shipping during a busy holiday season

The 2020 holiday season is on track to be the busiest in shipping history. Stock up, plan ahead and buckle down. Start early with these ten tips, compiled with the help of online retailers like you and other industry experts.

What should you do to get ready for this unprecedented
holiday season?

The 2020 holiday season is on track to be the
busiest in shipping history. Stock up, plan ahead
and buckle down. Start early with these ten tips,
compiled with the help of online retailers like you
and other industry experts.

Start earlier than you ever have before.

  • Keep your sales forecast up to date. What’s trending with your target customers, both on your site and in general? What do you expect to sell most? Get those inventory items in stock early and make sure your ordering process is seamless before the rush hits.
  • Check on your supply chain to make sure you'll get your products in when you need them. Work on making your order fulfillment process more efficient. Make sure you have your end products and fulfillment supplies (like packaging and labels) on hand early. And consider stocking extra. The last thing you want to do is leave orders on the table because you don’t have the products or materials to ship them.
  • Track your inventory across all your selling platforms. This helps you avoid accepting orders for items you don’t have or can’t get.
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TIP 1

Start earlier than you ever have before.

  • Keep your sales forecast up to date. What’s trending with your target customers, both on your site and in general? What do you expect to sell most? Get those inventory items in stock early and make sure your ordering process is seamless before the rush hits.
  • Check on your supply chain to make sure you'll get your products in when you need them. Work on making your order fulfillment process more efficient. Make sure you have your end products and fulfillment supplies (like packaging and labels) on hand early. And consider stocking extra. The last thing you want to do is leave orders on the table because you don’t have the products or materials to ship them.
  • Track your inventory across all your selling platforms. This helps you avoid accepting orders for items you don’t have or can’t get.

Incentivize early shopping to enable early shipping.

  • Use promotions like free or reduced shipping to encourage customers to order online earlier. Getting on the front end of the holiday rush will improve the chances of their packages arriving on time. People are expected to start their online holiday shopping in early October.
  • Motivate existing customers to shop now. Include promotional materials in orders you're shipping now. With more than 2,000 FedEx Office locations across the country, printing is a snap. See our range of services and discover special printing offers.
  • If you choose to offer free shipping, consider choosing an option with a longer delivery time. That translates to more cost-effective processing and shipping.
shopping cart icon

TIP 2

Incentivize early shopping to enable early shipping.

  • Use promotions like free or reduced shipping to encourage customers to order online earlier. Getting on the front end of the holiday rush will improve the chances of their packages arriving on time. People are expected to start their online holiday shopping in early October.
  • Motivate existing customers to shop now. Include promotional materials in orders you're shipping now. With more than 2,000 FedEx Office locations across the country, printing is a snap. See our range of services and discover special printing offers.
  • If you choose to offer free shipping, consider choosing an option with a longer delivery time. That translates to more cost-effective processing and shipping.

Strategize based on the calendar and the competition.

  • Cyber 5, the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, is set to break records this year. Customers who place orders after Cyber 5 may risk not receiving their items in time for the holidays. See the last days to ship for this holiday season and check back often for updates.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to be the biggest single shopping days, but Thanksgiving will be a close runner up.
  • Big retailers (like Amazon, Walmart and Target) will promote heavily throughout the season. Customers might suffer from promotion overload. Small businesses have to be smart about using promotions. Find out when the big guys are running their promotions and use that info to shape your holiday strategy.
location icon

Find the most convenient FedEx drop off locations ahead of time. Use those on days when you don’t have a regular pickup or you’re processing shipments later in the day.

calendar icon

TIP 3

Strategize based on the calendar and the competition.

  • Cyber 5, the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, is set to break records this year. Customers who place orders after Cyber 5 may risk not receiving their items in time for the holidays. See the last days to ship for this holiday season and check back often for updates.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday are expected to be the biggest single shopping days, but Thanksgiving will be a close runner up.
  • Big retailers (like Amazon, Walmart and Target) will promote heavily throughout the season. Customers might suffer from promotion overload. Small businesses have to be smart about using promotions. Find out when the big guys are running their promotions and use that info to shape your holiday strategy.
location icon

Find the most convenient FedEx drop off locations ahead of time. Use those on
days when you don’t have a regular pickup or you’re processing shipments later in the day.

Create happier customers by managing their expectations.

  • Designate a holiday “order by” shipping deadline that you feel confident you can meet based on your promotion schedule and order projections. Then, tell your customers—early and often—what that date is.
  • There’s always a chance sales will exceed your expectations. That’s a good problem! But it could cause delays if you’re not prepared for it. Add a disclaimer to your checkout page to avoid overpromising. This will help make the season less frustrating and stressful for you and your customers.
  • If you think you might see changes in product availability, plan for it, and tell your customers. If you have limited quantities of certain items, note that on your site so they won’t be disappointed.
profile icon

TIP 4

Create happier customers by managing their expectations.

  • Designate a holiday “order by” shipping deadline that you feel confident you can meet based on your promotion schedule and order projections. Then, tell your customers—early and often—what that date is.
  • There’s always a chance sales will exceed your expectations. That’s a good problem! But it could cause delays if you’re not prepared for it. Add a disclaimer to your checkout page to avoid overpromising. This will help make the season less frustrating and stressful for you and your customers.
  • If you think you might see changes in product availability, plan for it, and tell your customers. If you have limited quantities of certain items, note that on your site so they won’t be disappointed.

Monitor your volumes closely.

  • How many orders are coming in? How are people responding to promotions? What’s your available inventory? How well are your fulfillment processes keeping up with demand? Stay aware of all these things to help you make decisions about operational changes.
  • Adjust your holiday “order by” shipment cutoff if you need to.
  • After the last order date, promote gift cards that don’t require shipping. They’re simple for the shopper, and getting a personalized e-card can surprise and delight the recipient. As an added bonus, they also help you grow your customer base.
bar graph icon

TIP 5

Monitor your volumes closely.

  • How many orders are coming in? How are people responding to promotions? What’s your available inventory? How well are your fulfillment processes keeping up with demand? Stay aware of all these things to help you make decisions about operational changes.
  • Adjust your holiday “order by” shipment cutoff if you need to.
  • After the last order date, promote gift cards that don’t require shipping. They’re simple for the shopper, and getting a personalized e-card can surprise and delight the recipient. As an added bonus, they also help you grow your customer base.

Overcommunicate order status to buyers during the entire sale and shipment process.

  • When it comes to their orders, customers would rather have too much information than not enough. Plus, keeping them in the loop reduces your customer service calls and emails.
  • Send tracking information with their order confirmation and explain how they can sign up for automatic notifications.
  • Communicate proactively about where their order is in the fulfillment process. Send alerts when the order is packed, shipped, out for delivery and delivered.
  • Set up delivery delay notifications.
  • Add post-order FAQs to your website and email communications. This will help customers find relevant information on their order status, tracking details and returns process.
device manager icon

Encourage your customers to take control of their deliveries with FedEx Delivery Manager®.

chat icon

TIP 6

Overcommunicate order status to buyers during the entire sale and shipment process.

  • When it comes to their orders, customers would rather have too much information than not enough. Plus, keeping them in the loop reduces your customer service calls and emails.
  • Send tracking information with their order confirmation and explain how they can sign up for automatic notifications.
  • Communicate proactively about where their order is in the fulfillment process. Send alerts when the order is packed, shipped, out for delivery and delivered.
  • Set up delivery delay notifications.
  • Add post-order FAQs to your website and email communications. This will help customers find relevant information on their order status, tracking details and returns process.
device manager icon

Encourage your customers to take control of their deliveries with FedEx Delivery Manager®.

Prepare for the unexpected and be ready to pivot.

  • The holidays often bring inclement weather like snow and ice with them. That can affect shipping services and delay deliveries. Sign up for service alerts and stay informed about these and other events (think tropical storms and wildfires) that could impact shipping times.
  • Be sure to sign up for delivery notifications so you’re in the know and tell your customers to do the same.
alert icon

TIP 7

Prepare for the unexpected and be ready to pivot.

  • The holidays often bring inclement weather like snow and ice with them. That can affect shipping services and delay deliveries. Sign up for service alerts and stay informed about these and other events (think tropical storms and wildfires) that could impact shipping times.
  • Be sure to sign up for delivery notifications so you’re in the know and tell your customers to do the same.

For customer deliveries, bundling is better.

  • Offer a product or shipping discount to encourage order consolidation. When you consolidate an order into one shipment, you can reduce your order fulfillment efforts and your shipping costs significantly. Customers get their entire order at the same time with less packaging waste.
open box icon

TIP 8

For customer deliveries, bundling is better.

  • Offer a product or shipping discount to encourage order consolidation. When you consolidate an order into one shipment, you can reduce your order fulfillment efforts and your shipping costs significantly. Customers get their entire order at the same time with less packaging waste.

Instill confidence with a flexible return policy.

  • Extend your returns window past the holidays. This makes earlier ordering more attractive to customers.
  • If you have brick-and-mortar retail stores, allow customers to make in-store returns—even if they bought online.
  • If you don't have a retail presence, allow FedEx to be your storefront by encouraging customers to drop off return shipments at a FedEx retail network location.
returns black and white icon

See how small businesses have used returns strategies to increase buyer confidence and protect their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

returns icon

TIP 9

Instill confidence with a flexible return policy.

  • Extend your returns window past the holidays. This makes earlier ordering more attractive to customers.
  • If you have brick-and-mortar retail stores, allow customers to make in-store returns—even if they bought online.
  • If you don't have a retail presence, allow FedEx to be your storefront by encouraging customers to drop off return shipments at a FedEx retail network location.
returns black and white icon

See how small businesses have used returns strategies to increase buyer confidence and protect their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Give shoppers more control over their holiday deliveries. Let us help.

  • Tell them about FedEx Hold at Location. Being able to pick up their packages at one of our retail locations, like Walgreens or Dollar General, creates convenience. Plus, it reduces porch piracy.
  • Encourage customers to sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager, which lets them redirect their holiday shipments or change delivery times.
storefront icon

TIP 10

Give shoppers more control over their holiday deliveries.
Let us help.

  • Tell them about FedEx Hold at Location. Being able to pick up their packages at one of our retail locations, like Walgreens or Dollar General, creates convenience. Plus, it reduces porch piracy.
  • Encourage customers to sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager, which lets them redirect their holiday shipments or change delivery times.