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How to streamline holiday shipping for yourself and customers

September 20, 2022 | Published by Faire

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This holiday season, shopping will be less about splurging and more about strategy. To lessen the sting of inflation and capitalize on limited inventory, consumers are shopping months before “Jingle Bells” comes on the radio. As a result, independent retailers and brands have an opportunity to build loyalty by reducing friction in the shopping experience and alleviating shipping stress. And for good reason: Ware2Go, a UPS company, found in its 2022 Peak Trends report that 76% of customers are more likely to make a repeat purchase based on a fast shipping experience. 

Thankfully, a fruitful holiday season is not entirely dependent on the uncertainty of supply chains. Armed with the facts and a little helpful foresight, you can set yourself up for success when placing or fulfilling orders domestically and internationally on Faire.

A high-level look at the global shipping situation

“The crisis with regard to service and supply has abated substantially but isn’t over,” notes Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. Case in point: The Wall Street Journal reported that on average 60% of all ship types arrived at ports six days late in July, and five-day docking delays in American ports are more and more common. From the lockdowns in China to labor shortages to the European energy crisis, there’s no lack of obstacles that could strip a retailer’s holiday spirit right out of the season. “A small or independent business who’s managed to keep its shelves stocked must be incredibly vigilant that they continue to do that,” says Cohen.

To prepare, 21% of small and medium businesses are ordering inventory earlier, according to Ware2Go. Indeed, planning ahead now and setting clear expectations about shipping times will go a long way to help create a smoother and more transparent buying experience for your retailers.

It’s best to plan, learn, and be aware

The first step toward global shipping success during the 2022 holidays is to simplify your shipping plan with Faire’s seamless order management tools and international guides. In our Help Center, you’ll find tips for U.S. brands shipping to Europe and Canada, as well as for international brands shipping to the United States. There are also several steps you can take independently to put your brand in the best possible position.

Put a holiday shipping plan in place now

To make the most of the season, you’ll want to create a strategic holiday shipping plan and put it in place as early as possible (if you haven’t already). 

To start, familiarize yourself with the shipping rules and requirements for every country you sell in. Faire currently works with brands and retailers in the United States, Australia, Canada, and 16 European countries, including the United Kingdom and members of the European Union. There are several factors to consider depending on where you’re shipping to, such as:

  • Customs regulations and fees
  • Shipping tariffs
  • Restricted items
  • Packaging
  • Insurance

It’s especially important to provide accurate tariff codes and invoices when fulfilling international orders. Faire can help identify the right tariff codes for your products and auto-generate the invoices you need for customs. If you ever have doubts about whether your products can be sold internationally or any other international shipping concerns, contact a customs broker before shipping. You can also consult your chosen shipping partners for the most up-to-date packaging and shipping rules.

Learn about projected shipping times and costs

Staying aware of the projected shipping times and cost increases for all your shipping partners can help you provide better customer service this holiday season. USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL all have different holiday deadlines for international shipments this year. Projected shipping times for domestic and international shipments may also range from overnight to several weeks depending on the chosen service, and of course the fastest services come with higher costs. 

If you choose to ship on your own, just be aware of how current shipping costs will affect your customers. For example, starting this October 2 and continuing through January 22, 2023, USPS will be instituting new seasonal costs, with retail customers paying up to $6 more per package. It’s always a good idea to compare Faire’s negotiated shipping rates with the current rates of your preferred shipping partners to see if you can pass on some savings to your retailers.

Track additional shipping delays as they occur

Don’t let the constant changes in global shipping logistics catch you off guard! As you put your holiday shipping plan in place, it’s important to stay flexible and ready for any changes in global shipping logistics as they occur. 

  • Stay apprised of events that may affect your shipping providers by frequently checking service alerts online from USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
  • Be on the lookout for additional delays due to things like weather, natural disasters, pandemic shutdowns, port closures, and other current events. If you hear about something that might affect your lead times, check in with your shipping partners ASAP.
  • If a retailer contacts you about the status of a shipment, offer great customer service by reviewing the order and providing an update. It takes only a minute to visit your Orders page and look up a customer’s tracking information.

Brands: know your top-selling products this holiday season

It’s always helpful to know which of your current products are in demand so you can easily fulfill orders as they come in. With the current challenges in global shipping, it’s especially helpful to think about which products are most likely to be in demand this holiday season before the rush begins.

  • See what your hottest sellers were last year during the holiday season as well as what’s selling now.
  • Pay close attention to top sellers in your product category on big retail sites, with a particular focus on holiday shopping categories. 
  • Use social media and Google Trends to explore current demand for products. You can search holiday boards on Pinterest or utilize hashtags such as #holidaygifts to search on Instagram.
  • Use Faire’s data-driven analytics to measure success and assess your bestsellers.
  • Update your lead time in your brand portal so buyers know what to expect once they buy, and be as accurate as possible when sharing expected ship dates (retailers will be searching for products with shorter lead times).

Retailers: Stay close with suppliers and customers alike

To get the season started on the right foot, it’s helpful to browse brands’ holiday collections early and schedule orders for your bestsellers ahead of time. An easy way to make sure your products will arrive within the desired time frame is to search for products based on location and shipping window. On Faire, you can filter your search by both factors. To do so, simply perform your search and select the toggle button second from the left, as pictured below. This will allow you to narrow your search. 

You can also look at a brand’s expected lead time—located on the brand’s shop page—to see how long it might take to arrive. Set their estimated lead time based on how long it typically takes for them to ship the order after they receive it. If you don’t want to rely just on preset lead times and shipping windows, you can also contact the brand directly: Ask what shipping methods they’re using this year and inquire about any additional delays they’re experiencing before placing your order. To message a brand on Faire, use our chat feature, and visit our Help Center for more detailed information on fulfilling orders.

Remember to keep your own customers apprised of how shipping delays may impact them this year. Advise your customers to get their shopping done early and let them know if certain items are low in stock. And when that item your customers can’t get enough of comes in, let them know about that too. “Get on the phone or your email and tell your customers, It’s back in stock. Would you like us to ship it? Would you like to pick it up? Would you like to reserve it?” says Cohen. “It tells the customer that they’re special, that you’re paying attention to their patronage.”

It’s hard to predict exactly how the holidays will shake out, but a little preparation goes a long way. If something tricky comes up, we’re always here to help you make the 2022 holiday season your most successful yet.

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