Holiday Season Shipping Strategies:
Preparing Your Store for Peak Demand

Image of Holiday Season Shipping
Image of Holiday Season Shipping
The holiday season is an excellent time for retail, and contributes significantly to annual revenue, but it does bring with it some unique challenges. From rising shipping costs to volume causing delays, shipping before Christmas can be a major issue that leads to consumer disappointment. Not only that but failing to deal with these issues means your customers looking elsewhere, not only do you lose revenue, but your competitors benefit directly from those losses.

This can have an even bigger impact, as consumers return to the competitor rather than your store once the holidays are over. Issues arising during the holiday period can cause problems for any business, while getting it right can set you up for the following year. With so many unpredictable problems to think about, it can seem like it is simple luck whether you are badly affected or not. However, by preparing in advance there are ways you can mitigate these challenges, reduce costs and keep your customers happy.

Boost stock beforehand

You cannot ship stock that you don’t have, so in the months beforehand, build stock levels above norms to allow for that extra volume. Because shipping becomes both more expensive and more difficult to secure around the holidays, this approach avoids additional logistics charges in your supply chain, and when others are struggling for stock with transport delays, you will have everything you need.
Image of Boosting stocks

Negotiate early

Shipping gets more expensive around the holidays, it is not ideal, but it is reality, so it is important to be set for that reality as soon as possible. Negotiate with your carrier early to try and secure the best price for the holiday period. By doing this, you can secure USPS shipping for Christmas or any other carrier at the best price, and that can give you an advantage in the holiday market.

While others may struggle to keep shipping reasonable due to constantly increasing costs, if you have already secured the best price for USPS holiday shipping for instance, you can be more aggressive with your shipping costs and stand out from the competition as a result.
Image of early Negotiate with your carrier

Give consumers a choice

While you may have a preferred carrier who you have built a good relationship with, even with negotiated pricing, this can be an issue around the holidays. This is because pricing is not the only problem faced with shipping, capacity is also a problem. If you stick with a single carrier, and they can’t cover your shipping needs, you are left with few options but to overpay massively to get product shipped with whoever you can get. The alternative would be to deliver late, and the impact on your business could be catastrophic, with angry and disappointed customers who will feel like you let them down.

Instead, keep your options open with shipping before Christmas by building relationships with multiple carriers. That way, if UPS shipping holidays options are struggling for capacity, you can switch to another, and so on. FedEx holidays provision for shipping before Christmas maybe performing better than USPS, and if you already have an established working relationship with them all, you can always choose the best option for your shipping needs. It's also will be useful to consider all mail delivery conditions on different holidays like Columbus Day or Good Friday.

If this sounds difficult to manage, you could be right. However, there is a way to have the choice of providers and avoid spending all your time managing which carrier to use on any given day. Instead of making the choice yourself, you let each customer choose their shipping during the checkout process. With a shipping solution like Calcurates, providing real-time data on delivery dates and prices for any number of different carriers, customers can choose which one meets their needs for speed and price.

With everything automated, including printing shipping labels and notifying carriers of shipments to collect, everything is taken care of, and your customers get the exact shipping service they want.
Let's check if Calcurates meets your shipping needs!
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Be honest with customers

Finally, there is one more approach that can make a huge difference for your customers. There is no doubt that no matter what you do, from negotiating the best prices possible for the period to allowing customers to choose their carrier and service speed, delivery before Christmas by USPS or other carriers will be more expensive, and take more time, than customers are used to at other times of the year.

Rather than pretending this year will be different, or that somehow your business will not be affected, in the run up to the holidays explain the issues to your customers. This approach allows you to be proactive. Explain that shipping will unfortunately be more expensive due to all carriers putting up prices during the holidays, and with capacity issues, products may also take longer to arrive. But then talk about the things you are doing to avoid the worst of it, the steps taken to secure the best possible prices and so on.

In this way, you can turn a negative into a positive, as customers see you doing your best to protect them from cost rises and shipping delays. It also gives consumers the time to adjust, making purchases earlier if they know there is a possibility of shipping delays, for instance. Yes, it happens every year and they should already know, but every year consumers are still surprised by the fact shipping takes longer during the holidays.
Image of warning the user about problems with delivery on holidays


Dealing with shipping issues is one of the major challenges of the holiday period, and they will affect every business, no matter how large or small. By preparing in advance, you can secure more choice and better prices, which in turn can give your customers better options and a superior shipping solution to the competition.

With the National Retail Federation research showing that the holiday period accounts for 20% or more of the entire year’s revenue for the average business, it is crucial that you don’t disrupt your business with shipping issues that sent customers elsewhere. Planning ahead, explaining the situation to your customer base and being ready for the challenges means having the best holiday sales possible for your business, and a platform for a successful year.
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