Your Guide to Holiday Shipping: Parcel Edition
Be Prepared for Peak Shipping Season
The temperature may be cooling down as we head into the final months of the year, but shipping volumes are heating up. We're about to enter peak shipping season! Always the busiest time for the logistics industry, the 2021 holiday shipping season is projected to be even bigger than years past.
For small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) trying to make sure their valuable parcel shipments are picked up and delivered on-time during peak season, preparation is priceless. Your shipping processes need to be more efficient, effective and cost-conscious than ever.
We've put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you achieve just that.
How can I find a carrier with capacity during peak season?
During peak shipping season, it can be difficult to find a carrier with available capacity due to high shipping volumes, especially given the ongoing effects of the pandemic on carrier capacity.
Using a third-party logistics company, which aggregates the combined volume of its customers, gives you a better chance at securing elusive space for your shipments, because carriers are apt to give top priority to their biggest shippers. Worldwide Express does just that for more than 115,000 SMBs, securing capacity as part of the largest non-retail Authorized Reseller of UPS® services in the country.
I've been shipping with a carrier for years, but now they say they don't have room for my shipment. What do I do?
This is a unique year, and with carrier capacities crunched like never before, many carriers are having to turn away even loyal shippers. We recommend taking advantage of a 3PL partner's relationship with carriers, like the one we have with UPS, to fulfill your peak season parcel shipping needs.
How can I make sure my shipment arrives intact?
Two words: package properly! Cutting corners to save time and costs on packaging will never pay off, and can lead to damage, delays and returns. Making sure every shipment is packaged thoroughly and appropriately greatly increases your odds of successful, trouble-free delivery.
How do I set up a peak season shipping plan?
We recommend putting a smart shipping schedule together right away to minimize surprises and give you time to gather needed information and supplies for the busiest months. Map out the detailed steps to your shipping process and review carriers' holiday schedules on their websites as you set up your schedule. As you plan, don't forget to allow time for potential weather-related delays, increased holiday demand and other issues that may arise.
Will I be charged peak surcharges this year?
The short answer is yes. UPS and other carriers add a peak surcharge during busy times of the year — usually between late November and January — however every major carrier has imposed peak surcharges since the pandemic began in early 2020. With its extra-crunched capacity, 2021 peak season will be no different. We recommend accounting for peak surcharges in your shipping budget.
How can I save money on holiday shipping?
While all carriers will utilize peak surcharges this season, you can do your shipping budget a huge favor by avoiding unnecessary shipping fees. One common charge is the additional handling fee. UPS assesses this fee when your package includes anything that might cause an issue with its facilities' conveyor belts, slides and sorting machines. The only way to evade this fee is to meticulously avoid the following in your shipments:
- Any article that is encased in an outside shipping container made of metal or wood
- Any cylindrical-like item, such as a barrel, drum, pail, or tire, that is not fully encased in a corrugated cardboard shipping container
- Any package with the longest side exceeding 48 inches or its second-longest side exceeding 30 inches
- Any package with an actual weight greater than 70 pounds
What's my recourse if a carrier suspends their guaranteed delivery and my shipments don't arrive on time?
After being suspended last year due to the pandemic, some delivery guarantees have been reinstated. That said, the unprecedented volumes that are predicted for this year's peak season, along with other unforeseen issues, could cause service guarantees to be suspended again with little to no notice.
The best rule of thumb during the holidays is to ship extra-early so your packages have time to arrive on schedule — or allow you to course-correct if it looks like a shipment is facing delays. If you're shipping perishable goods, you should not only properly package your items for transport, but opt for parcel insurance, which can go a long way to making you whole in the event that a delay causes spoilage.
I want to ensure my parcel shipping strategy and operations are in a great place for peak season — who can help me?
This is probably the simplest answer in this whole list: you need Worldwide Express! We have decades of experience solving shipping challenges for tens of thousands of SMBs around the country. We can provide you with a custom, complimentary shipping consultation to make sure your shipping operations are perfectly peak-season ready!