The holiday shipping season is the busiest time of year for you. That’s great news if you sell goods online for your bottom line and profitability. The flip side: You need to develop a game plan to get those goods to consumers on time during the peak season. And the sooner you develop a plan and get some peak season shipping tips, the better your chances of winning at holiday shipping.

With that in mind, here are five strategies to help you get ready for the holiday rush.

Strategy #1: Set a schedule – and account for potential delays

Yes, it sounds basic, but a well-crafted schedule is the bedrock of any holiday shipping plan. For starters, you have fewer business days and far more potential for weather disruptions during November and December. And that means transit times may get bogged down. You can get ahead of that by setting a schedule that anticipates holiday demand, and helps you know when to expedite particularly time-sensitive shipments vs. relying on standard transit times.

It also pays to account for your carriers’ shipping cutoff times. Generally speaking, customers expect that if they place an order before your daily cutoff time, you’ll process it that day. Make sure your cutoff time coincides with your carriers’ cutoff times, so you can make good on your fulfillment promises. If your times aren’t in sync, it could cause a single-day difference that might be critical if, say, a blizzard shuts down highways and airports.

Strategy #2: Map out the steps in your shipping process

Investing time to systematically document the key steps in your shipping process can pay dividends. And don’t skimp on the details – include, for example, how long it takes to complete each step and where there might be log jams, signaling an opportunity to streamline the process, which can be a big help when you’re hit with the holiday rush.

Strategy #3: Learn from last year (and maybe the year before)

Did something work particularly well for you during the last holiday season? Or maybe there’s a mistake – a mislabeled package, a miscommunication with your shipper, etc. – that cost you valuable time. Either way, use a past season’s experience to help refine how you’ll approach this season.

Strategy #4: Stockpile shipping supplies

Another basic, but crucial step. Make sure you have enough boxes, tape, printing labels and packaging supplies on hand to meet demand. Doing so will help you avoid seeing your shipping process get caught in the mud if you run out of, say, labels or bubble wrap. On a related note, carriers such as UPS® offer free boxes for some of their shipping services – something that can come in handy if you run low.

Strategy #5: Prepare for returns

Returns are an inevitable aspect of holiday shipping. How can you deal with them? Consider setting up a returns section on your website that clearly explains your policies. And consider ways to use returns to your advantage. A hassle-free returns process can lead to repeat sales and loyal customers. Of course, you'll also want to work with your shipping provider ahead of time to firm up details on the returns process.

Need some more information? Worldwide Express can help.

At Worldwide Express, we understand holiday shipping challenges. And we can work with you to help you overcome them.

Want to know more? We can provide you with a custom shipping consultation to help make this holiday season truly memorable – and maybe even hassle-free.