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Holiday Season 2022: How to Manage Shipping Cutoff Dates and Customer Expectations

Holiday shopping is arguably the busiest time of the year for retailers since it is when consumers usually get into a buying frenzy. While the period usually generates an influx of online orders for eCommerce businesses, customers and retailers must deal with a recurring but rather dreadful reality this 2022 holiday season - shipping deadlines. 

As last-minute shoppers make their last-minute purchases, the biggest concern on their minds will be whether their order will arrive at their destination on time. Retailers will need to be proactive in managing customer anxiety and expectations by being transparent with shipping cutoff dates during this period. 

This post contains actionable advice to help you effectively communicate shipping deadlines, eliminate customer anxiety, avoid late deliveries, and provide a superior experience during the 2022 holiday season.

What you need to know about 2022 holiday shipping cutoff dates

Holiday shipping cutoffs refer to the latest date by which you have to ship an order for it to arrive at the intended destination by the expected date of delivery. You may also call it the shipping deadline, and failing to ship the order by that date could result in the package not getting to its destination in time for the holidays. 

Due to an influx of holiday orders, carriers are usually under enormous pressure to ship in large volumes. So they use cutoff dates to plan and manage their shipping activities and spread out deliveries. Each carrier will release its own cutoff dates for every type of service and location ahead of time to help merchants create effective shipping strategies around the deadlines. 

How to manage holiday shipping deadlines and customer expectations 

To ensure that the holiday season is successful for you and your customers alike, they need to be made aware of the holiday cutoff dates. If you’re wondering how to handle the deadlines and meet their expectations, you only need to do one thing:

Make sure your customers have plenty of notice about cutoff dates

Yes, you have to be transparent about deadlines, and the best way to do that is by putting out clear and concise pieces of information easy for customers to find. Doing so helps to reduce customer anxiety regarding whether their order will arrive by the expected date or not. By being proactive and upfront about holiday shipping deadlines, shoppers are better equipped to make informed buying decisions. 

Consider 5 practical tips to help you reach the highest level of transparency concerning deadlines with your customers before the holiday buzz swings into full gear:

  1. Create a holiday shipping and return policy

Prepare a holiday shipping and return policy using the cutoff dates released by your negotiated carrier(s). The policy will provide customers with detailed information regarding what to expect while shopping from your store during the holidays. Do not forget to provide a link to your policy on your homepage and product pages. Additionally, you can create a special FAQ page to address questions about holiday shipping deadlines.

  1. Make shipping cutoff dates visible across your website page

Retailers that care about their customers manage their expectations and prevent anxiety by making holiday shipping cutoff dates visible on relevant website pages. Make deadlines easy to find by displaying them on your homepage and product pages. You can also use banners on your site with important dates and announcements. Since holiday deadlines are always released way before the peak activity kicks off, make sure to communicate the dates to your customers.  

  1. Use social media to communicate holiday shipping deadlines

Use your relevant social media channels to keep in touch with your customers and keep them updated with the latest information and reminders about deadlines.

  1. Factor in your lead times

Retailers also have to factor in their click-to-ship time when communicating shipping cutoff dates this holiday. You need to consider how long it takes to pick, pack, and process an order, especially during peak seasons. Delays are common during holiday periods due to shopping pressure, so you want to add some extra time to your carrier’s cutoff dates. Doing so will help you set clear expectations for customers and allow you to make realistic delivery promises that you can keep.

  1. Equip your customer service team 

85% of customers will not order from you again after a bad experience, so the holiday season could be a defining period for retailers. WISMO in eCommerce usually borders around order status and shipping times, so make sure your customer service team has the right information regarding cutoff times and delivery timelines to provide satisfactory answers to customer inquiries.

Use a multi-carrier shipping strategy this holiday season

Your customers deserve a memorable shipping experience this coming holiday season. Different carriers will be offering different cutoff times and rates across every service level. To give your customers more flexibility and choice, ensure your eCommerce website is integrated with intelligent multi-carrier rate shopping software so your customers can choose the most cost-effective shipping method per their needs.

You should really consider integrating with FenixCommerce’s Carrier Optimization Platform which comes with EDDs and compares shipping rates and services across multiple carriers in real-time to ensure you’re always choosing the best shipping services that will get every order delivered by the promised date. 

We currently have a FREE Subscription Program that allows you experience our platform in action at no cost to you. Take advantage now so you can get your shipping prepared for the 2022 holiday rush!

Wait… here’s another brilliant idea:

To fulfill customer orders even faster during the holidays, why not consider activating the BOPIS option? BOPIS offers your customers the additional choice of buying online and then picking up their package in person at the nearest brick-and-mortar store at zero shipping cost. 

If you’d like that, then read our guide on how to activate and drive omnichannel sales during the Holidays using BOPIS.

Akhilesh Srivastava

Author: Akhilesh Srivastava
Founder and CEO of FenixCommerce

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