Your Holiday Shipping and Order Deadlines Guide 2021 [Free Visuals Included]
Holiday shopping season is that time of year when everyone seems to be on pins and needles, thinking about their constantly growing to-dos and loved ones’ wishlists.
Last year we witnessed an ecommerce shopping boom like no other. Although most brick-and-mortar shops around the world have reopened, people still choose to shop from the comfort of their homes. So you need to prep for an influx of orders and put in some work to make sure no one is left empty-handed on holidays.
When selling holiday gifts, you must be upfront with the expected delivery times and order deadlines to receive gifts just in time. After all, you don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas from your customers.
Let’s go over why and how you should add order deadlines to your communications strategy this holiday season. As a bonus, you’ll also find free holiday visuals to use for your promos.
What are holiday order deadlines?
Holiday order deadlines, also known as cut-off or order-by dates, are suggested days by which you should place orders to get your products in time for the festivities.
Companies usually have separate deadlines for each product category, shipping method, and delivery destination. So the date can vary for the same t-shirt you sell on different continents. To get the final cut-off dates at Printful, each year, we follow a simple 4 step process:
- Analyze the data from previous years to set the fulfillment estimates for the upcoming season
- Get carrier estimates for all regions
- Take into account other factors like increased hiring for the peak season
- Add up all information to get the final order-by dates
To use our this year’s holiday order deadlines, first, choose the upcoming holiday. Then select your selling region and find your product category.
You can add the dates automatically to your calendar and keep order deadlines in your pocket for a quick double-check:
Why are holiday order deadlines important for your customers?
There’s nothing worse than ending up empty-handed for the holidays. You’re unhappy, your customer’s upset, and the gift recipient’s left without your amazing product. But with order deadlines, you can avoid this problem entirely and even make some profit.
Although shopping will start early this year, experts predict that the shopping journey takes two weeks on average from the first product search till a completed order. So you can stay one step ahead and already inform your customer about upcoming deadlines. If your customers know the very last day to order your products, you can forget about having unpleasant conversations with angry shoppers about late gifts.
But how can your sales benefit from this information?
It’s pretty simple! Deadlines create urgency that in turn boosts interest and engagement. When potential customers see that time is running out, they’re more likely to buy your products. You just need to make sure that your order deadlines are visible in all essential customer journey touchpoints.
How to extend your shopping time during holidays?
We all have that one person in our friend group or family who puts off gift shopping for the last minute. Is it even possible to offer anything to a customer shopping so close to the holidays?
Although print-on-demand has many benefits, you always have to mind the time it takes to fulfill your orders on the spot. Because the last call for orders can be quite early for most products and regions, it’ll be harder for you to snag last-minute holiday shoppers.
But there is a way to solve this industry-wide issue.
You can significantly extend your holiday selling period by stocking your best-selling on-demand products in our warehouses. With the help of our Warehousing & Fulfillment service, you can unlock new features like same-day fulfillment. So it’s a smart trick to attract last-minute shoppers.
How to communicate holiday order deadlines to your customers?
Will my gift arrive in time for the holidays? This question will cross the minds of many potential customers.
Your best bet is to share holiday order deadlines across all platforms through which you engage with your consumers.
Keep in mind that:
- Not all of your customers see your order-by date announcements on social media or emails, so placing the order deadline info just 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 either
To reach a large volume of customers use evergreen tools and trendy ideas to make your deadline communication strategy bulletproof. Ready to roll?
1. Add order-by dates to product listings and shopping cart
If there’s one thing customers tend to read when shopping, it’s the product description. That makes it the ideal place to add delivery estimates and cut-off dates.
A simple message will work just fine, for example:
- 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 express and standard shipping in your store, then specify that too. For 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 that shoppers will notice. Just remember to remove the disclaimers once the holidays have passed.
Shopping cart is the last stop before you can celebrate a successful sale. But, many customers tend to leave their cart before hitting the pay button. So here’s your chance to convince your customer to complete the order. An order deadline can give your potential shopper a much-needed nudge to not put off their purchase for later.
Keep it short and snappy, like:
Order until Dec 10 to get your gifts in time for the holidays.
2. Create holiday order FAQs and update policies
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 may take time.
Include the following information in your holiday order FAQs:
- 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 various products, go for something similar to the table we use for our holiday order deadlines.
- Anticipated questions. Think of possible concerns your customers might have and write down the answers to reassure them. For example, can I order after the deadline? Put yourself into customers’ shoes and address as many questions as you can.
Don’t forget to update your store policies with information about:
- Order tracking
- Shipping options and delivery times
- Lost or damaged packages
3. Display deadlines on store banners
With holiday shoppers on the lookout for gifts, you can expect your online shop will receive more visitors. A potential customer will often look around and gather information before heading to the shopping cart.
By displaying your order deadlines on the home page, you have a higher chance to convert the customer during the first visit. 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.
Inform that deadlines for each product are displayed on the product page or, better yet, add a call-to-action button that directs customers to your holiday order FAQ page.
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, you sell wall art to Japan. In that case, you can display a single date for the specific product.
4. Promote holiday order deadlines via ads
When you’ve covered all bases on your storefront, it’s time to create promotional content for external communication channels.
There’s no better way to attract a new audience to your store than ads. Better yet, well-targeted video ads. Trends show that customers engage more with video ads, so your engagement rate will go through the roof if you create a video displaying your gift-worthy products with a timestamp.
Running 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 is a match made in heaven.
While you’re at it, consider retargeted ads. When a customer visits your store, they’re already interested in your brand. So even if they’re not convinced by your in-store deadline promotions and leave without buying, you can still remind the customer about your products with the last call for orders.
You can set ad triggers based on behavior, like if a customer viewed a product or left the shopping cart without buying. Then your ad will pop up on social media to remind them about your products.
5. Send out email reminders about the last chance to order
Email marketing is a highly effective tool to boost your sales. People are more likely to buy a product if they receive an email offer.
When you’re preparing your email copy to communicate order-by dates, remember that you can use this space to also promote your shop and offer special deals. Here are some ideas where you can incorporate order deadlines:
- Holiday gift bundles
- Gift guide
- Holiday order countdown
- Free shipping or special deals like 1+1
When the order deadlines come closer, send out a re-promo campaign. Some of your customers might’ve opened the first email and thought, “Hmm, this could be an option for my holiday gifts . . .” but didn’t act on it. That’s where you sneak in with the re-promo email and remind them about your store.
6. Create social media teasers and FOMO
Your potential customers are actively searching for products and deals on social media. So stack up on 2021 social media trend knowledge to create your own viral content. Social media is very visual, so don’t cut corners when creating your photos, designs, and videos.
Think of fun, engaging activities you can play out with your audience. For example, offer holiday giveaways. It’s a great way to engage with your audience while giving a little back to your community. Let your creativity flow!
If communicated with special deals, order deadlines can create FOMO or fear of missing out. So your goal is to create social media posts that customers can’t resist. Set frequent reminders about upcoming cut-off dates on your social media platforms to keep the excitement high.
How can you create a social media buzz?
One idea is to include a countdown, like 12 days of Christmas, until the last moment you can shop. Then, you can plan out the campaign where you offer a giveaway in one or two days, and the rest is seasonal product content. By including the deadlines in each post, you’ll both tease the audience and create urgency.
Put your order deadline knowledge to use
With all this information at your fingertips, you can now apply it to your own store.
Create a list with your products on one side and leave space for deadlines on the other. Then find your product category and selling region on our order deadlines page and fill in the blank spaces with the cut-off dates. After that, all you have to do is create a game plan for your promos, and off you go.
Just remember to get your holiday visuals from the subscription box below. Enjoy the holiday sales!
This article was originally published in November 2017; it has since been updated.
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