Your Holiday Shipping and Order Deadlines Guide 2020 [Free Visuals Included]
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.
Holiday prep takes up most of our time and can even cloud the magic that surrounds this joyous time.
With this year’s booming ecommerce holiday sales and increased strain on shipping carriers, there will be more packages to fulfill and deliver in comparison to last year.
And, when it’s holiday gifts you’re delivering, make sure your customers know what to expect in terms of receiving times.
You want to be prepared. So let’s prep together by going over what holiday order deadlines are, why those dates are important, and what to do with them. As an added bonus, you’ll also find free visuals to use for your holiday promos!
Your Holiday Shipping and Order Deadlines Guide
- What are holiday order deadlines?
- Why are holiday order deadlines important?
- How to communicate holiday order deadlines to your customers?
- What’s next?
What are holiday order deadlines?
Holiday order deadlines, also known as cut-off or order-by dates, are suggested dates by which you should place orders for the best possibility to receive them in time for the holidays.
Companies usually have separate deadlines for each product category and shipping method.
Here at Printful we also have our own holiday order deadlines that are specific to our product categories, shipping methods, and delivery destinations.
To figure out our order deadlines, we analyzed our fulfillment data from previous years and looked at the order-by dates from our carriers. We then added our estimated fulfillment times on top of the carrier order-by dates and got our deadlines.
Since you’re selling Printful products, you must also follow Printful’s holiday order deadlines.
Take a look at the order-by dates for the products you’re selling, and let your customers know about the last dates to order to get the gifts in time for the holidays.
Why are holiday order deadlines important?
There’s nothing worse than ordering gifts online and then not receiving them on time for the holidays. You’re unhappy, your customer’s upset, and the gift recipient’s left empty-handed.
But that unhappiness can all go away if you manage your customer’s expectations from the get-go.
It’s important to inform your customers about the order deadlines so they:
- know when to place their orders with the best chance to get them on time
- can decide if they’ll want to risk ordering last minute and possibly miss getting those gifts on time
And it’s equally essential to communicate those dates for yourself:
- to be confident that you’ve shared all the information your customers need to make a buying decision
- to have someplace to refer your customers to if they ask you about delivery estimates
Now that you know the what and the why, let’s dive into the how.
How to communicate holiday order deadlines to your customers?
The more channels you use to communicate your deadlines, the higher your chances of getting them noticed by your customers.
Keep in mind that:
- Not all of your customers see your order-by announcements on social media or emails, so placing the order deadline info there won’t reach everyone
- Some of your customers might land on a specific product page, so keeping your deadline announcement just on the homepage won’t do the job
1. Add order-by dates to product listings
If there’s one thing shoppers always read, it’s product descriptions which makes them the best place for sharing your order-by dates.
You don’t have to go all Shakespeare on the texts, a simple message will work just fine:
- Order by [date] to get this [product] by Dec 25 in [region]
- Order by Dec 7 to get this mug by Dec 25 in Europe
If you offer different types of shipping on your store, then specify that too. Example:
- Order by [date] to get this [product] by Dec 25 with [method] in [region]
- Order by Dec 12 to get this mug by Dec 25 with Standard shipping in Europe
Pin the order deadlines on the top of your listings to be 100% confident shoppers will notice. Just remember to remove the disclaimers once the holidays have passed.
2. Create a holiday order FAQ
To make shoppers feel safe, it’s a good idea to create a dedicated holiday FAQ on your storefront. Besides holiday order-by dates, you can also remind your customers about your store policies and acknowledge that shipping times may take longer this year.
You can use the holiday order FAQ section not only to inform your customers but also to thank them for all their support and wish them happy holidays.
Include the following information in your holiday order FAQ:
- The order-by dates. If you sell just one or two product categories (mugs and wall art, for example), then a few sentences about order dates should cover it. If you sell a variety of products, go for something similar to the deadline table we use for Printful’s holiday order deadlines.
- Expected questions. Think of the uncertain scenarios your customers might ask about your order-by dates and answer them on the page. For example, can I order after the deadline?
- Holiday greetings. Be grateful to your customers and wish them happy holidays. Sprinkling in a little bit of joy will give your holiday FAQ a lighter feel.
3. Display deadlines on store banners
Let your visitors know your store’s ready for holiday orders by sharing it on a banner.
Since there’s not much room for text in a banner, and there are a lot of order-by dates to cover—you have two options to share the dates there.
Option 1: Inform customers they need to order by specific dates to get their gifts on time.
Tell them that they can see the order deadlines on each product page or, better yet, add a call-to-action button that directs customers to your holiday order FAQ page. There you go, another reason why it’s worth creating one.
Option 2: Be precise and share your order deadlines on the banner.
This option works if you sell a few product categories to a specific geo-based market, for example, only wall art to Australia. In that case, you can display a single date for wall art orders to Australia.
4. Promote holiday order deadlines via ads
When you’ve covered deadlines on product listings, holiday order FAQs, and banners, add the cherry on top—set up promotions.
Posting ads about order deadlines will make your customers think about timely gift shopping. It’s a powerful way to create urgency and convert those indecisive shoppers into customers.
If you want to take your promos a step further, throw in a free shipping offer or a discount deal. A tempting discount and a time-limited offer are match made in heaven.
5. Send out email reminders about the last chance to order
Emails work well not only to inform about order-by dates, but also remind your customer base about your shop and the awesome products you’re selling.
Create an email campaign with a gift guide where you feature products perfect for the holidays. Post your product order-by dates there as well.
When the order deadlines come closer, send out a re-promo campaign. Some of your customers might have opened the first email and thought “Hmm, this could be an option for my holiday gifts…” but didn’t act on it for some reason. Here’s where you sneak in with that re-promo email and remind them about your store.
With all this holiday order deadline knowledge at your fingertips, head back to your store.
Write down a list of the products you sell and put Printful’s 2020 holiday order deadlines next to them. Then, based on the tips you read just now, plan out where and how you’ll post your product order-by dates.
Remember to get your holiday visuals from the subscription box below. And… enjoy the holiday sales!
This article was originally published in November 2017; it has since been updated.