November and December can be the two most profitable months for e-commerce companies, resulting in shipping volume increases and driving 30% more e-commerce revenue than any other time of year. The optimal customer experience is receiving your package on time and without damage. Learning important shipping tips can help reduce any negative customer experience.

    Successful practices and tips for the holiday season include: proper packaging, adding shipping insurance, avoiding surcharges, and taking note of key shipping dates.

    Proper Packaging
    Theft and damage is an ongoing problem for both commercial and individual shippers, especially during the holidays. Some important tips to remember are:

    • Don’t draw attention to your package. Descriptive boxes and labeling are an easy target for would-be thieves. By removing your company name from the return address, it makes it harder for thieves to determine the contents inside. Suggestions would be to use your initials or “Shipping Department.”
    • Complete package scanning. Use a mode of delivery that provides detailed tracking information revealing the complete status and position of your shipment.
    • Make sure labels are securely attached to your package. Labels that are not properly affixed can stick to other packages in transit, and this is a common way for the package to disappear.
    • Use a strong packing box and package your contents securely. A box with low burst strength is an accident waiting to happen. Use plenty of bubble wrap.
    Adding Shipping Insurance
    As the 2017 holiday shopping season approaches, online sales are expected to increase by 15.8%. This impressive growth, in turn, will equate to more packages being shipped and delivered. The rise in package volume can cause substantial delays in delivery times, increased handling issues, and pilferage. Obtaining shipping insurance this holiday season will be crucial in covering your packages against damage, loss or shortage. Some insurance will even cover your shipping costs.

    After all, with billions of packages being delivered during the holidays and carriers hiring temporary seasonal employees, mistakes can happen. It is important to add shipping insurance to cover damage, loss, and shortage while in transit. Keep in mind there is a difference between carrier insurance and third-party shipping insurance; the carriers often have fixed pricing for all shippers and a tedious claim process. Most third-party shipping insurance companies offer lower rates than the carriers and expedited claims processing. Third-party companies will also give you a more “VIP” experience, flexibility in coverage, and no hold time when you call in… Let’s face it, this is important!

    Avoiding Increased Surcharges
    Avoid waiting till the last minute to get your orders shipped to your customers. Stay current on carrier surcharges and handling charges to eliminate additional unneeded costs.

    UPS rolled out new pricing for the peak holiday shipping season:

    • UPS will add a 27-cent surcharge on all packages shipped via Ground Residential from November 19 to December 2.
    • UPS will also add a surcharge from December 17-23.
    FedEx is not adding additional holiday residential surcharges as UPS is doing but will add increased handling surcharges from November 20 to December 24, 2017.

    Important Shipping Dates
    Listed below are the important deadlines from popular shipping carriers to ensure your packages are delivered:

    UPS:

    1. Dec 18: Deadline for 3-Day Select shipments.

    2. Dec 22: Deadline for 2nd Day Air shipments.

    3. Dec 23: Deadline for Next Day Air shipments.

    USPS:

    1. Dec 15: Deadline for Standard Parcel Post (Mail) shipments.

    2. Dec 20: Deadline for First Class Mail and Priority Mail shipments.

    3. Dec 23: Deadline for Priority Express Mail shipments.

    FedEx:

    1. Dec 12: Deadline for Smart Post shipments.

    2. Dec 17: Deadline for Home Delivery and Ground Delivery shipments.

    3. Dec 20: Deadline for Express Save shipments.

    4. Dec 22: Deadline for 2-Day and 2-Day A.M. shipments.

    5. Dec 23: Deadline for Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First Overnight shipments.

    6. Dec 25: Deadline for Same Day shipments

    Day

    Date

    Holiday

    UPS

    USPS

    FedEx

    FedEx Ground

    Thursday

    Nov. 23

    Thanksgiving Day

    closed

    closed

    closed

    Saturday

    Nov. 25

    Saturday after Thanksgiving

    closed

    Sunday

    Dec. 24

    Christmas Eve

    closed

    closed

    closed

    closed

    Monday

    Dec. 25

    Christmas Day

    closed

    closed

    closed

    closed

    Sunday

    Dec. 31

    New Year's Eve

    closed

    closed

    closed

    closed

    Monday

    Jan. 1

    New Year's Day

    closed

    closed

    closed

    closed

    Don’t count on a holiday miracle to ensure that your packages arrive safely. Protect your packages against damage, loss, and shortage by choosing the correct, nondescript packaging and then simply adding shipping insurance. Give yourself peace of mind.

    Michele Marasca is the Director of Marketing at U-PIC Insurance Services, and is recognized as a shipping expert. She has over a decade of experience in the shipping industry category. She works with small companies and fortune 500 companies building cost effective shipping insurance solutions to maximize their savings and minimize their risk exposure.

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