Customers agonize over finding the perfect gift during the holiday season. And once it’s located, the pressure is on the retailer to deliver it as expected – and on time. Unlike other times of the year, where deadlines might be flexible, the holidays usually have hard deadlines that leave little room for error.
Part of meeting these expectations is understanding holiday shipping deadlines for every carrier that you use. Whether it’s FedEx, UPS, or USPS, having a list of deadlines ahead of time is the difference between delighting customers and losing future business. With customers shopping at record rates, the stakes have never been higher.
Consumers spent approximately $108 billion online during the months of November and December in 2017, which is up 14.7 percent from the prior year. What’s more, for the 2018 holiday season shoppers have an additional day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which adds an additional revenue opportunity. So what can you do to get prepared? If you’re using FedEx, it’s important to mark important dates on your calendar and communicate those expectations to customers. Read on to find the FedEx holiday shipping schedule for 2018 and tips for maximizing results during this holiday season.
Important Dates for FedEx This Season
As the holidays get closer, knowing FedEx shipping deadlines is critical. If you miss an important date, you could pay more for shipping and – even worse – deliver packages late. Some retailers include a message on their website with ordering dates so that customers can plan and also to generate a sense of urgency. For example, you might say, “Purchase by December XX to get it by Christmas.”
Not sure which dates to include? Shipping deadlines vary based on what service level is selected, but typically the sooner you ship, the better. This is why having an efficient fulfillment process is so important. Sometimes shipping late is unavoidable, especially for those last-minute shoppers. Check out these FedEx deadlines for the 2018 holiday season.
- Dec. 14 – Deadline for FedEx Ground® shipments.
- Dec. 17 – Deadline for FedEx Home Delivery® shipments.
- Dec. 19 – Deadline for FedEx Express Saver® shipments.
- Dec. 20 – Deadline for FedEx 2Day® and 2Day® A.M. shipments.
- Dec. 21 – Deadline for FedEx Standard Overnight®, Priority Overnight® and First Overnight® shipments.
- Dec. 25 – Deadline for FedEx SameDay® shipments.
As you can see by the dates above, FedEx is unique in that it offers Christmas Day service. If retailers need to ship on Christmas Day, the company has SameDay service, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for urgent, last-minute shipments. If you need this service, visit www.fedexsameday.com or call 1.800.399.5999 to schedule a pickup. However, it’s important to note that even though FedEx offers this service, there is not a 100 percent guarantee that it will arrive on the 25th.
Retailers can access the full holiday service schedule and get information on when each service is open and available here.
Understanding Service Options
FedEx offers a variety of service options – everything from ground delivery to same-day service. Usually, the quicker you need a package delivered, the more expensive it is. But which option is right for your business and your customer? Explore the various shipping options to help you decide, and use the planning schedule above to set order-by dates.
According to the company’s website, FedEx Ground is faster and has more locations when compared with UPS Ground. This service delivers in one to seven business days, based on the distance to the destination: typically one to five business days within the contiguous United States and three to seven business days to and from Alaska and Hawaii. Check delivery times during the holiday season by checking transit times online.
Ground shipments can have a package size and weight up to 150 lbs., up to 108″ in length, 165″ in length plus girth (L+2W+2H).
FedEx Home Delivery
FedEx Home Delivery allows customers to select when they want packages to arrive, including evenings and Saturdays for most locations. Delivery time is typically one to five business days within the contiguous U.S. and three to seven business days to and from Alaska and Hawaii. Package size and weight restrictions extend up to 70 lbs., 108″ in length, 165″ in length plus girth (L+2W+2H).
FedEx Express Saver
FedEx Express Saver offers delivery in three business days by 4:30 p.m. to businesses and to residences by 8p.m. Service days are Monday through Friday, and Saturday pickup is available in some areas for an additional fee. FedEx Saver is available in all states, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii.
Deadline for FedEx 2Day and 2Day A.M. Shipments
FedEx also offers two-day and two-day a.m. shipments. Delivery time is typically the second business day, with delivery by 10:30 a.m. to most U.S. addresses and by noon for rural areas. Find exact transit times here. This service is available in all states, with the exception of Hawaii, and package size restrictions extend up to 150 lbs. each, up to 119″ in length, 165″ in length plus girth (L+2W+2H).
In addition to understanding shipping options, it’s helpful to anticipate other fees. For example, some carriers may charge special surcharges during the holiday season. When calculating fees, it’s useful to understand these surcharges so you can price appropriately.
Account for Additional Holiday Surcharges
Many carriers, such as UPS, charge a holiday surcharge on shipping. It’s important to understand any potential surcharges because they add to the expense of sending packages to customers, especially when you’re footing the bill. Although some suspect that FedEx may implement residential holiday surcharges, similar to those of UPS, the carrier currently does not have these charges.
Retailers can take advantage of affordable, fast shipping with no additional residential surcharges on packages. However, other surcharges and fees may apply. For example, if additional handling is required on a package, there may be an additional fee, which increases from $20 to $23.20 during the holiday season. Another example is a surcharge to deliver to specific ZIP codes, such as those in Alaska and Hawaii. Find a full list of potential extra charges here.
Understand Guarantees and Limitations
Holiday shipping has little room for error and requires careful planning to avoid customer disappointment. When shipping during the holidays, it’s important to note that the normal money-back guarantee that FedEx offers is off the table. As a result, leaving a little extra buffer for shipping time is helpful. The full holiday money-back guarantee policy is included here, but see below for a quick summary of what to expect.
FedEx Ground. Packages tendered to FedEx Ground for delivery on the day after Thanksgiving will be scheduled for delivery on that day if the recipient business is open, but in any event, the delivery commitment will be extended to the next business day for application of the money-back guarantee. The money-back guarantee for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will be suspended temporarily for packages picked up on Monday, Nov. 26, through Monday, Dec. 24, 2018.
FedEx Express. The FedEx money-back guarantee will be suspended temporarily from Tuesday, Dec. 18, through Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, for shipments delivered by the end of the day on the published delivery commitment date for the selected service and destination. This will also be applied on Wednesday, November 21st for shipments that reach their destinations within 90 minutes of the scheduled commitment time.
This includes most FedEx Express services, such as FedEx 2Day, FedEx Express Saver and more.
FedEx Freight. The FedEx Freight no-fee money-back guarantee is suspended for shipments with required delivery dates of Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, through Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. During this time, FedEx Freight will continue to provide normal pickup and delivery, except on Dec. 24 and 25, 2018, and Jan. 1, 2019, when FedEx Freight is closed, and on Dec. 31, 2018, when FedEx Freight will be open but with only pre-arranged pickup and delivery shipments being made.
In addition to ensuring that you understand what guarantees are available, it’s also critical to look at your existing processes and strategies and find ways to fine-tune them before the holiday season is in full swing.
Tips for Streamlining Shipping Processes
There are many moving parts during the holiday season, and retailers are charged with ensuring all processes are seamless. A process that doesn’t work well could throw everything out of balance and result in unhappy customers. Following are some ideas to consider.
Set proper expectations. Over-delivering on customer expectations is the best action that you can take during the holidays. Nothing delights customers more than having a Christmas gift they ordered for a family member delivered sooner than expected. Pay attention to ship-by dates, and add a little buffer to ensure that customers are happy.
Ship packages fast. The holiday season is all about reacting fast to orders. Aim to ship orders within 12 hours of receiving them for maximum results. The quicker an item is readied, the faster you can get it on a truck and onto the customer’s doorstep.
Schedule frequent package pickups with carriers. Since volume increases during the holiday season, it’s helpful to schedule more frequent package pickups. Doing so ensures that you have a consistent stream of packages going out and less delay between the time a customer places an order and receives the item.
Extend shipping cutoff dates as late as possible. It’s wise to create a small cushion in shipping estimates to plan for the unexpected. But this must also be balanced with meeting customers’ last-minute needs. It’s important to note that last year two of the top 10 buying days of the holiday season occurred within a week of Christmas. In fact, the final week before Christmas accounted for 12 percent of online visits and 14 percent of transactions during the holiday season. Extending shipping cutoff dates as late as possible ensures that you don’t leave that last-minute shopping revenue on the table.
Pay special attention to the packing of packages. A damaged package is a surprise that no customer wants during the holidays. Reduce the risk of damaged packages by ensuring that boxes are strong and plenty of packing material is used. There should be at least two inches of room between the product and the outer shell of the box to minimize the risk of damage.
Mark your calendar to look at your shipping process annually. Even a shipping process that appears to be in good condition can often benefit from a few tweaks. By continually evaluating your process, you can maximize efficiency to ensure a better experience for the customer.
Meeting FedEx Deadlines with Greater Success
Shoppers are rushing during the holiday season to meet deadlines and expectations as well as create a wonderful holiday experience for their family and loved ones. One piece of the puzzle is shopping for just the right gift. And when they find it, that’s only the beginning of the process. The customer then hands the reins over to the retailer so they can deliver the package in time for the customer to deliver the gift to the recipient. A critical piece of that puzzle is shipping.
When a package arrives later than expected, customers rarely blame the carrier; they are instead upset with the retailer. This shifts the responsibility to ensure that without a doubt, whether you use UPS or FedEx, the package is delivered on time..
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