holiday delivery

Holiday Delivery: Challenges and How to Meet Expectations


It’s widely known that the holiday season brings a boom in retail shopping. This increase in demand is great for merchants and can often bring the rewards we hope for all year long. But unless you’re prepared for the additional holiday delivery challenges, this holiday season might come as an unexpected surprise. 

Retail holidays like Black Friday, Boxing Day, and Christmas bring peaks to in-store and online shopping. Sales are at their highest in these final months of the year, which means store lineups start early. But since online shopping has become more popular, more and more people are skipping out on in-person buying. Instead, many are choosing to have items delivered to their homes in a matter of days. With the convenience of delivery increasing and delivery time frames shortening, holiday shopping is becoming more virtual.

For merchants to be prepared, understanding the holiday delivery barriers and implementing processes to overcome them is crucial. In order to be successful, you need to start preparing early. Without proper planning, online orders can quickly become too much to handle. 

Last-Minute Holiday Delivery Barriers 

When it comes to the holiday season, specific issues tend to arise that we don’t see during the rest of the year. While most months see stable, consistent growth in shopping, the end of the year brings fast spikes in orders. As you can expect, these higher numbers of orders are challenging to manage when they aren’t expected. 

Here are some of the problems you’ll likely see if you’re a seller facing the upcoming holiday season (but don’t worry too much, we’ll also show you how to avoid them).

Increase in Demand 

As previously mentioned, an increase in demand could be inevitable at this time of the year. As customers look for gifts these holidays, a fast and unexpected increase in demand might be just around the corner. 

If you haven’t thought about this yet, you’ll need to start soon. Your workers, supply chain, and finances all need to be in line and ready to take care of orders as they come in. We’ll get into some tips for managing this later. 

Deadlines for Christmas Arrival 

Depending on who you work with, your partners could have some unexpected holiday protocols in place as well. Suppliers, manufacturers, and couriers typically have a cut-off date. This is probably different for each of them, but it’ll decide when you need to order by to meet holiday shopping needs. 

For suppliers and manufacturers, you’ll need to order from them well in advance. Some suppliers run out of stock as the year advances and the holiday time approaches. Manufacturers also have deadlines to order by if you want the products to be delivered to your store or warehouse well in advance of holidays like Christmas. Without ample supply, you won’t be able to meet customer order demands. 

Couriers will have their own deadlines. Depending on who you work with to deliver orders to customers, you’ll need to research the last day to place an order so your customers can receive gifts on time. For example, Canada Post has a cut-off date of December 11, so Christmas orders have to be placed before this for merchants using them as a courier. 

Helpful tip: you can find couriers who don’t have such an early cutoff date and will let you place orders until days before the holidays! 

Unexpected Holiday Fees 

Lastly, you might need to expect some additional holiday fees to stack up. This also depends on who you work with, and if you act early enough, you can avoid them by making smart partnerships. 

Some delivery couriers charge extra over the holiday season. FedEx is adding holiday surcharges as high as $2 for their merchants who want to deliver from now until mid-January. Amazon is raising fees for sellers who use their fulfillment services by 35 cents during this period. 

By picking the right partners, you can find a last-mile solution that can get your orders to clients without charging you extra. After all, the holiday season is the time to amp up sales and increase your revenue.  

Delivery Time Constraints 

As all of the above accumulates, you’ll end up with less time than needed to get everything done. Before you know it, you’ll be packaging orders that were already supposed to be on the road. But as tasks pile up and more and more work needs to be done, tasks become hard to manage. 

These time constraints directly affect your delivery success as well. If you aren’t prepared to process and deliver orders correctly, every step following this will be delayed as well. Real problems arise if there’s enough of an issue to affect the customer receiving the package. 

More orders and deadlines to meet can seem overwhelming at first, but learning to manage a surge in demand will become crucial to getting everything done in time. 

holiday delivery

Tips for Optimizing Processes 

If these barriers seem like issues you want to avoid, you’re on the right track. To help you avoid such potential problems, here are solutions that can ensure a smooth holiday selling experience. Here are some of the best tips to help you successfully make it through this holiday season. 

1. Start Early 

All of these tips only work if you start early. As we enter the start of the season, this is the best time to start planning for the few months. October is a great time to start planning, giving you some time before the holidays begin and gift-giving picks up pace. By getting ahead now, you can make sure everyone’s holiday orders – both the early and last-minute ones – are quickly taken care of. 

What you can do now to begin planning is ensure your supply chain is in order and put procedures in place to make sure orders are completed smoothly. Ordering your materials or products now makes it possible to get them to customers faster after they place an order and helps you avoid issues in supply chain management as shopping trends increase across the country. You can also set processes for managing orders as they move from a warehouse to the final customer to avoid issues arising later. 

Pushing back your preparation any later will have you struggling to manage orders as they pick up. Now is the best time to start!

2. Keep Track of Dates 

As previously mentioned, meeting deadlines can be crucial to completing holiday orders and deliveries. If you are working with suppliers or couriers who place deadlines for Christmas delivery, you’ll need to be aware of them in advance. Place all of your orders well before this date to make sure they arrive by the time you’ll be delivering them to customers.

You’ll also need to let your customers know when they need to order by to receive gifts in time for the holidays. This way, they’ll know exactly when they can purchase by and avoid missing the deadline. Updating your customers about the last possible date to order is essential for preventing concerns and complaints during the busy shopping season. 

3. Have A Customer Support Team Ready 

Our next tip is to have a professional, experienced customer support team ready to help. As orders increase, so does the need to support customers as possible issues arise. Without customer support experts, buyers will be left without the assistance they need to complete their orders. Customer questions can arise throughout all parts of the buying process, which is why it’s always better to be prepared. 

The best way to support your customers as peak season approaches is to offer various channels where they can contact you and your partners. For example, customers are likely to have questions about the delivery process and might inquire about time frames and updates. One particular part of the process where concerns often arise is during the final stage of delivery. Customers want to know about parcel locations and delivery time frames during last-mile delivery. Working with a partner who can handle these concerns for you will free up plenty of your time. 

4. Have a Plan B

Having a backup plan in place can save you if problems do arise. You should always be prepared to solve an issue before it evolves into a bigger problem.

For example, you might want to consider keeping some extra stock available in case your orders suddenly surge. Ordering more while stock is available can help you avoid a lack of inventory as we approach the busy season. You might also want to keep extra suppliers on hand in case your primary supplier is unable to meet your needs. In a case where they can’t provide you with what you need, a backup option could allow you to keep fulfilling orders. 

Another backup option to keep in place is a second delivery provider. If your current courier is unable to meet your delivery needs, another provider can help you complete orders during peak season. This is an easy way to make sure all your orders are completed on time and can help prevent upset customers. 

5. Automate As Many Processes As Possible 

And finally, by far the easiest way to optimize your holiday season processes is to utilize and rely on technology where possible. Technology can help you in numerous ways, most of which become even more critical during this time of year. 

For example, technology can help you monitor and manage your inventory levels. Having inventory stocked at all times is especially important during peak season. However, it can be time-consuming to manually check on it every day. Instead, inventory management systems are available to keep track of what you have on hand. They’ll even let you know when certain items are running low. 

Another way technology can help you manage an increase in deliveries is by using it to streamline your deliveries. Placing orders for delivery can be time-consuming and stressful when it requires detailed manual work. Instead, relying on couriers who utilize APIs that can take orders directly from your website limits the time needed from you to organize deliveries and also removes the chance of making errors. Since fewer errors mean less time to fix them, this can save you plenty of time and money. 

Holiday Delivery with FlashBox

We know by now that the holiday season rush can bring its own challenges, especially when dealing with the demands of holiday delivery and meeting the short deadlines that come with it. Practicing these tips before the rush can ensure you complete your orders on time and end on a triumphant note to make holiday delivery more manageable. Start planning now by keeping track of dates and deadlines, having backup plans, preparing customer support, and automating processes to prevent errors later on. 

FlashBox makes it easy to complete holiday deliveries and avoid falling behind. By delivering to customers with FlashBox, you’ll avoid early deadlines and be able to accept Christmas orders up until days before Christmas. Working with FlashBox also means no hidden fees, even during the busiest delivery season of the year. Our flat-rate pricing means no additional costs for the peak season, fuel surcharges, or parcel destination. 

Start preparing for your holiday delivery needs now by offering same-day delivery to your customers. As last-minute orders pick up and expectations rise, give your customers exactly what they’re looking for with FlashBox.

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