The Jam

3 Tips To Handle The Impending Holiday Shipping Problems

If you’re selling things online you understand the importance of shipping things in a timely manner to your customers. This is especially true when it comes to holiday shipping. The impending situation coming on with shipping providers like USPS, UPS, FEDEX, and companies like these, could throw a hamper on your plans. In order to stay in front of that, we’ve put together a list of three things to help you get through the holiday season that much smoother! We ultimately hope this helps you find even greater Etsy shop success this holiay season!

All about holiday shipping

Today we’re excited to chat all about holiday shipping! If you’re selling online, you know the importance of shipping and how important is really is to get your products to customers sooner rather than later. Buyers are definitely accustomed to now receiving their orders super fast! While this isn’t always possible in the Etsy space, it is still really important to deliver your products in a very timely manner. 

The holidays are coming

This is especially important as the holiday season is about to go into full swing! Customers may be a little more stressed about their holiday shopping, especially if they’re last minute holiday shoppers. This really isn’t the best option for buyers most years. But this year, it’s pretty different because we’re talking about 2020. 

Some news

Unfortunately, there’s been some news that’s come to light about the status of shipping and what we can expect going into the holidays in 2020. There was recently an article in the wall street journal that basically said FEDEX and UPS have started notifying their largest shippers that they’re running our of shipping capacity.

This is interesting wording because usually, we’re used to hearing about shipping delays. Running out of shipping capacity sounds like they literally don’t have room for your package. While the article didn’t specifically say that there won’t be room for sure, based on the wording, it’s hard to believe they would use those kind of escalation words if a concern wasn’t really real. 

Etsy weighing in

Etsy also put out an article saying USPS and other carriers may be raising their shipping prices a little as well. While it’s not a lot, if you’re an Etsy seller who is offering free shipping, it will cut into it and is definitely something to be aware of. Etsy also mentioned that if you’re buying your postage through them, you’ll get a cheaper rate than if you go straight to USPS to do your shipping.

Even if you’re doing this, your rates are still going to go up from where they were before. As a seller, we feel that all of this is something you need to be aware of. You need to keep in mind the increase in shipping rates (probably across the board for carriers) and also the potential delays and capacity issues. 

Some perspective

Apparently the difference in delivery capacity versus demand is forecasted to be more than 3X higher than in 2019. We’re sure they’re aware of this. And we’re sure they’re trying to work on whatever they can behind the scenes (like hiring more people and getting more trucks on the road). However, the reality is there is only so much they will be able to do in such a short amount of time. 

3 tips to tackle

At this point, you’re probably thinking you can’t change what they’re going to do as far as capacity goes. So what can you do as an Etsy seller to get through this in your shop? As always, your objective is to sell things online and get those things to your customers so they can get those gifts to their loved ones. Don’t worry, we’ve got three tips that we hope will help you navigate all of this with ease and help this not be as big of an issue for you! 

1. Press your customers for urgency

As much as possible, try not to let your customers wait until the last minute to place their orders with you. Now, we’ve all been there where we find something we like, we book mark it, we add it to our Etsy cart, we think about it, we decide we’re going to back to it later and then we don’t. Next thing you know, Aunt Martha doesn’t have a present because it’s still sitting in that Etsy cart!

This is not the year to let customers think this is an ok thing to do and they’ll be able to still order late and receive their shipment on time. Keep in mind that your customers aren’t going to be paying attention to shipping. We pay attention to them because we’re the ones shipping them. But the average customer isn’t going to be thinking through cut off dates.

This will be something you have to communicate to your customers. It’s SO important that you have those cutoff dates in your description for your listings. It might even be necessary this year to put something on your photos to really express that urgency that things might be crazy with shipping this year and they should get their purchases in now. That way it ensures they will receive them in time. 

Working with you

Etsy will fortunately be working with you on this, because Etsy is highly aware of the shipping concerns coming up as well. Etsy definitely isn’t going to want their business or your business take a hit because of this. The wording and communication that they’re sending out to shoppers is going to go hand-in-hand with what you’ll also be telling your customers. Stay calm through it all, but be decisive with what you’re communicating to your buyers and set those expectations early that they need to purchase now. 

2. Check carrier status online

Be sure you’re checking on the shipping times and lengths and be sure you’re communicating this to your customers as well. Even if your customers are buying early, be sure to still set the correct expectation and don’t leave them with unrealistic ideas of when their items might be arriving. We found that USPS, UPS, and FEDEX have lengths on their websites. These are based on either the destination or the sender’s zip code, it will tell you on a map how long it will take to arrive to different parts of the country. 

If you’re not already aware of these websites, you should definitely be checking them and using that to communicate the most recent up to date information about shipping times. No matter which carrier you’re using, make sure you’re checking their website and then communicating what you find there about shipping times to your customers.

You also want to be tracking this because this can help you decide as a seller which shipping company you might want to go with. If your normal carrier looks super delayed, check the sites to see if you need to switch to a different carrier this year to speed up those delivery times. As volume moves from one carrier to another, it will be important to stay on top of who is delayed and who is running a more speedy delivery schedule. 

Keep your eye on pricing

You also need to be aware of what price you’re paying for shipping. If you’re offering free shipping on your listings, but you’ve kind of figured out what the average cost of shipping is and you’ve built that into the price of your products, you may need to change some of your pricing around to meet the pricing increase on shipping. Make sure you head that off and adjust your pricing accordingly. 

But what if my price ends up higher than my competition?! 

We’re sure this is a thought you may have had by now! However, we wouldn’t worry too much about this as trust is going to go a long way, especially when it comes to receiving products that will be gifts for the holidays. If you are a prepared seller and are communicating with your customer, this can make all the difference.

If your customer is reading your descriptions and images and seeing that you really seem prepared and proactive in letting them know what to expect, they are going to compare you against other sellers who are not doing this. This will make buyers feel safe putting their money with you and having a great experience where they were told what to expect all along the way. 

3. Off a bonus gift if the product ordered won’t make it to the buyer in time

You can offer something like a digital download. If the customer still wants your product (because it’s amazing) despite the delay in delivery, you could offer a printable card. They can give this to Aunt Martha letting her know the gift is on it’s way. This way the person receiving the delayed gift still has something nice that communicates the love from the giver. 

You have to consider the alternative to this too. What is it? That the person doesn’t get a gift because it won’t be there until two weeks past Christmas. As a customer, seeing that you’ve already thought through another option for them, is also going to really up your selling game! Yes, you communicate that the product wouldn’t make it on time. And yes, the buyer knew this when purchasing. But take that extra step. Show your customers that they can fully trust you are doing all you can to communicate you appreciation for their purchase. This will truly go a long way. 

Final thoughts

The more prepared you seem as a seller, the more buyers will truly trust you. This will only result in happy customers and hopefully many repeat customers for you as well! 

Happy selling, everyone! 

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