The holiday shopping season is upon us once again. Black Friday is the unofficial start of the season, traditionally being the most profitable day of the year for retailers. Cyber Monday has grown both financially and in popularity in recent years as more people shop online.
It’s also been said the season starts earlier and earlier every year. This year, its early arrival is necessary due to probable shipping delays and supply chain issues that can impact delivery times. The shopping rush has already begun.
Each year’s holiday season experiences some sort of shipping delay issue, but the global pandemic has amplified the problem. More consumers are shopping online, creating supply droughts and high levels of postal service demand.
Products can’t be manufactured fast enough to satisfy demand. There are labor shortages at every step of the supply chain from manufacturing to trucking and delivery services. These labor shortages are the third cause of delays, helping to create another holiday season of woe.
The USPS Slows Service
Due to the massive increase of customers shopping online, the United States Postal Service can’t keep up with shipping demands. In fact, they’re charging higher shipping rates this holiday season and slowing transit times for first-class mail from three days to a five-day window. Priority Mail isn’t exactly a safer bet for prompt delivery due to postal staffing shortages. There are other shipping options, but consumers and retailers can expect higher rates and delays using those services, as well.
Supply Chain Issues
Industry-wide supply chain shortages caused by everything from factory shutdowns to shipping port congestion have created a bottleneck that not only hampers consumers receiving their packages on time, but also affects manufacturing. Even if consumers could promptly receive their packages, the products aren’t being made fast enough — if they’re completed in the first place. Some manufacturers can’t receive materials needed to produce their products, more evidence that the shipping issues caused by the pandemic are far-reaching.
Retailers wishing to move their products quickly from ports to stores or directly to customers’ homes face a burdensome challenge if they’re not fully staffed.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are approximately 10 million job openings in the country.
Supply, shipping, and labor issues are all intertwined with each other, increasing the potential of making a bad situation this holiday season even worse. The global pandemic has severely piled on headaches for everyone involved. However, there are ways to reduce the stress associated with holiday shipping delays.
How and When to Prepare for Shipping Delays
It’s imperative that customers start shopping for holiday gifts now so they arrive in a timely manner. Retailers must also be prepared to meet this year’s holiday demand to help avoid any shipping problems. More people than ever shop online.
In fact, holiday sales this year are expected to grow at least 7% compared with last year. Big and small business owners must take steps now to make sure their customers receive their orders in time for the holidays.
1. Understand your shipping and delivery process.
Knowing how you ship and deliver your products removes the guesswork when you have to fulfill orders. This is important during the holiday season when the conditions have changed. Plus, the better you know your own process, the easier you can explain it to irate customers affected by a shipping setback.
2. Gather your shipping supplies in advance.
Shipping delays can affect you if you need to order boxes or tape. Being prepared for the holiday shopping onslaught will help you maintain your workflow pace. Getting more than you need is also a good idea. Buying last-minute supplies might be impossible, especially if you order them online.
3. Make sure you can meet delivery deadlines and plan for delays.
It’s a great idea to keep an eye on your postal carrier’s shipping deadlines so you can factor in these details on your delivery times.
4. Offer a variety of shipping options, including free shipping.
You should be giving your customers shipping options anyway, but it’s highly important this holiday season. Customers expect to receive their items in a timely manner. This year will challenge their expectations. Giving them options that are transparent upon check-out could reduce their frustration if a package is late in arriving.
These days, online shoppers expect free shipping. It’s not always financially feasible to provide this option. You should understand how it affects your profit margins before offering it. Offering free shipping, however, is a perk that might go a long way with a beleaguered customer.
Other shipping options are flat rate and exact cost shipping. Flat rate shipping sets a price that will cover most of your shipping costs. Exact cost shipping lets the customer see the exact shipping costs.
5. Communicate any delivery updates.
Consumers appreciate frequent and open communication. Letting them know what they can expect this holiday season might lessen their aggravation. Also, be sure to promptly reply to customers’ questions. Chatting live is a great option if you have the time.
6. Have enough inventory.
You can’t sell something you don’t have in stock. Order enough inventory early so you can meet your customers’ demands.
Preparing for shipping delays this holiday season might necessitate a sudden increase in expenses. Payability is a platform that offers qualifying eCommerce businesses the money to sustain and nurture financial growth. Businesses can apply to get capital as fast as one business day depending on their sales performance and history.
Payability offers businesses two solutions for their cash flow needs.
Instant Advance allows qualifying businesses to get up to $250,000 to spend on inventory or marketing. This money can be extremely useful when making that final order to bolster your stock before the holiday rush. Or, you might want to use this capital for an advertising blitz to push you ahead of your competitors.
- Must have at least 9 months of selling history and average monthly sales of $10,000. You may qualify for a larger advance based on your sales success.
- No credit checks.
- Apply online and get funds in as fast as one business day if you qualify.
- You can Instant Transfer, same-day ACH, or wire the money directly to your bank.
Instant Access lets qualifying businesses take control of their cash flow by getting paid out the same day they’re approved. Businesses no longer have to wait for their marketplace payouts. Having additional money on hand to pay higher shipping costs can help offset the added expenses brought on by the pandemic.
- You must have at least 3 months of selling history and average monthly sales of $2,000.
- No credit checks.
- Apply online and get funded the same day.
- Get your payouts every day, including weekends and holidays.
Payability also offers eCommerce businesses the Payability Seller Card. You can use this physical card wherever Visa is accepted. With it, you can enjoy up to 2% cashback on all purchases.
You can earn money when you purchase inventory, business supplies, or advertising. This is another resource that might prove useful during these hectic economic times.Knowing how to prepare for shipping delays this holiday season is just as important as knowing where to get the funds to help sustain your business. Preparing for the worst could very well result in the best.