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Your Holiday Shipping and Order Deadlines Guide 2018 [Free Visuals Included]

By on October 24th, 2018 Reading Time: 6 minutes

People are impatient.

There, I said it! It’s a bold statement, but I think we all know it’s true. We are so busy with our lives, responsibilities, and chores that we barely ever have time to just relax. The holiday craze is that time of year when everyone seems to be on pins and needles, thinking about the constantly growing to-do list and their loved ones’ wish lists. It takes up most of our time and can sometimes even cloud the holiday magic. And then there’s shipping to think about.

Here’s the thing – in the 2018 holiday season there will only be 31 days between Black Friday and Christmas. With the annual growth of ecommerce holiday sales, retailers will have more packages to fulfill and deliver. And, when it’s holiday gifts you’re delivering, your customers better receive those packages on time.

You want to be prepared. So in this blog post, we’ll give you the rundown of all the shipping facts you need to know. We’ll inform you about the shipping rates you can use through Printful and offer ideas on maintaining your profit margins while offering holiday deals. And yes – there are also free visuals to use for your promotions!

Shipping and holiday deals – do they go together?

It’s no secret that every customer loves a good bargain. Their eyes light up when that discount pops up on their screen because spending less is the best. As a retailer you have a bit of a different agenda.

Holiday deals are a great way for you to hook new customers on your brand and have more sales. Research from the National Retail Federation shows that 73% of consumers rank sales and price discounts as an important factor when doing their shopping.

Clearly, the discount bandwagon is the one you should jump on this season, but don’t go overboard. The big numbers are inviting to customers, but you want to earn some profit as well. The key to doing that is making sure there are enough customers buying your products. Here are the 4 steps of having a sale without losing profit.

  1. Promo – get people interested before the official start. A great example is the Bath and Body Works Christmas campaign. It gets the word out and people have more time to get acquainted with what they want to buy.

  2. Early access – get a list of your most loyal customers and grant them early sale access. You already know that they like your products, so why not allow them to snatch some of your goodies first?

    Source: Gap

  3. Scare tactics – people like to think they’ll have time to shop later. So a little scare to let them know time is running out is good. Offer 24-hour or, 48-hour sales, or limited quantity sales where only the first 100 people get the discount. 

    6670140

    Source: LOREX

  4. Extend the sale – there will definitely be those customers who had something in their cart but then decided to leave. Reach out to them with a special extended sale offer. This works because everyone has FOMO – the fear of missing out.

    Source: Julep

Pick and choose which of these 4 steps you want to take for your holiday sale season this year. Be careful when combining scare tactics with the extended sale – you don’t want to be making promises about a sale ending and then extending it. It makes your customers lose trust.

The crowd favorite – free shipping

We just talked about maintaining profit while offering discounts on your products. But another tactic you should consider is free shipping and here’s why.

According to the Deloitte holiday survey, ecommerce sales expected to rise 17 to 22 percent during th2018 holiday season, and free shipping can become a big help in getting some of the action to your store. Here’s what Practical Ecommerce says about free shipping:

  • 54% of consumers are likely to take action when they get a free shipping promo in their inbox
  • Various studies show that free shipping can increase revenue. For example, Stitch Labs found that free shipping can increase revenue by 10%
  • In 2014, 58% of US orders included free shipping.

Plus, according to a survey by Internet Retailer and Bizrate, free shipping is considered more (or equally) important than fast shipping. 90% of respondents will wait a few days extra if the shipping is free.

Free shipping is obviously a big selling point for your customers. After all – who would want to pay for something you can get for free? Free shipping is an extra perk that can push a customer that’s on the edge to take the plunge and purchase.

To be extra safe and keep your profit margin, you can also price your products to cover the shipping costs. 

Free is good, but I want fast!

Although many customers are willing to wait the extra days for free shipping, it’s good to offer options. After all, we’re living in the age of Amazon, where expectations are going up. Consumers want their orders fast and cheap.

According to this survey from Deloitte, customer expectations on what’s considered fast shipping is changing:

It’s important to be competitive when it comes to shipping. You need both free and expedited options.

Printful offers live shipping rates that are always available for Shopify Advanced plan, Woocommerce, and Ecwid users, as well as API users. The live carrier rates are a great option for the holidays, mostly because it gives your last minute gift shoppers a way to still receive their items on time.

You might be wondering, well what if I don’t use any of the platforms that are compatible with live rates, and my store is not integrated through API? Don’t worry – we have a solution for you too. The good news is that live rates are also available for all manual orders. The bad new is that since you’re using a platform that doesn’t support live rates, you can’t actually display them at checkout. So here’s what you can do:

  • Add multiple shipping options to your checkout manually. Essentially you’re creating your own flat rates. Group them by price and speed. We suggest having two rates at checkout – basic delivery speed (the flat rates you’re currently using) and expedited delivery speed (use our live rates). When your customer selects one, make sure you upgrade the shipping to the corresponding rate on Printful.
  • Don’t make any big changes and simply upgrade the shipping if your customer insists it has to be delivered quickly.

The 2018 Holiday Order Deadlines

Nobody wants to be THAT person on Christmas morning that has to explain why their gifts are not there. Um… they’re on their way? It’s awkward, so ordering on time is crucial.

Not ordering on time causes so much heartache. A) On your customer’s side when they don’t get their intended gift on time.  B) The gift’s recipient, who is left empty-handed. C) You, because you’ll have to deal with sad customers, and D) Our support team that inevitably ends up answering distraught emails every year due to late orders.

So, keep our order deadlines in mind and communicate them to your customers so they know too (again, we have visuals for this!). 

You’ll find all of our order deadlines right here.

Don’t be empty-handed for the Holidays!

Send reminds your customers of the last day they can order, so their gifts make it in time for the 25th. There are plenty of benefits – your customer gets their order on time, you get fewer complaints, and by reminding your customers to buy, thanks to the nudge effect, it will most likely lead to more sales!

To make it even easier for you, we’ve created a few free visuals that you can use and put up on your social media accounts to remind your customers when to order (tip: overlay your transparent logo onto them using Canva).

Get Your Visuals

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A self-proclaimed queen of puns with an odd passion for stats and all things UX / marketing. Has zero chill when it comes to overcomplicating… anything. Especially new feature development.
    1. Adam

      Doesn’t work for me either. I’m AM using an ad blocker but if something so common breaks your download button it’s the button’s fault, not mine.

  1. Lizzie

    I can’t click the link either – if you have the time I would appreciate an email with the visuals. They sound useful 🙂

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