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Deadlines, Do’s and Don’ts to Optimize Your Holiday Shipping with UPS and FedEx

Nov 1, 2019 12:00:00 AM

Millions of parcels will soon be on their way and some will carry the reputation of your business with them. Shippers should mark these dates to get the best deals and avoid delays on seasonal shipping.

The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they’re also the busiest for parcel carriers. The United States Postal Service braced themselves to deliver over 900 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in 2018, and this year looks to be another record-breaker.

UPS are expecting to handle almost 40 million packages a day during this period – a projection that’s moved them to hire around 100,000 seasonal workers to manage demand in 2019. Much of this extra demand is based on two factors – the rise in e-commerce sales and the FedEx split from Amazon which has created more opportunities for other carriers to take on packages.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at how both big carriers will be handling the holiday season and what shippers need to know about dates and deadlines before choosing either one.

How UPS is handling the holidays

Compared to FedEx, quite a few UPS services will be closed during key holiday dates. Their Holiday Operations Schedule is easy to read but reveals a timetable that’s not as flexible as their competition’s. Furthermore, additional charges may be applied for pickup and delivery services on major holidays. On the plus side, UPS does offer a handy time and cost calculator which could be a valuable aid for shipping departments trying to make more informed decisions.

On the savings front, UPS announced earlier this year that they won’t be applying residential surcharges for the 2019 holiday season. They’re also updating processing and delivery services, upping automated sortation by 70,000 packages an hour and adding 20 aircraft. This well-timed saving doesn’t apply to all packages, however – those UPS designate as large will receive an additional surcharge.

If a package really can’t wait (which is very common around the holidays), UPS does offer the Express Critical option. This is their fastest shipping service, and it’s available 24/7, year-round for emergency and urgent shipping to all 50 states and Puerto Rico. They don’t publish any figures on how much this service costs, but they do offer a Quick Quote webform.

The combination of special handling and the time of year means shippers should be prepared to spend a significant amount. Now let’s look at how FedEx fares by comparison.

The cut-off dates for FedEx

If your shipping department wants to make sure things get there on or before Christmas Day, FedEx offer a neat one-stop sheet to help you time it right. The easy, at-a-glance layout covers most of their services to the contiguous United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. However, a 71lbs core lesson must be applied here – Always read the fine print!

Shippers in a seasonal rush may have to use Same Day pickup (picked up and delivered on Christmas Day) and if they do, that’s an extra $40 or $50 per shipment dependent on the service model used. Delivery by December 22 is available by overnight or 2-Day services at an extra cost of $16 per package. December 25 delivery for FedEx International Next Flight shipments is the most expensive at an additional fee of $75 per package.

FedEx offer more information on the Holiday Schedule page. Scroll down to “Year-End Availability” to see how and when their different services will be operating. They also offer shippers season-specific help and advice via the Seasonal Holiday Shipping Hub and, for the third year in a row, will be giving shippers a little gift by waiving residential delivery surcharges.

Some smart seasonal shipping tips

Recording those pickup and delivery dates is the first tip in helping your business stay competitive during the seasonal rush. Another invaluable piece of knowledge is that UPS suspend their shipping guarantee between December 2 and 24. That’s right – exactly when shippers need reassurances most, UPS introduce a period of weeks where they’ve effectively immunized themselves against poor performance claims. No guarantees are a red flag for shippers no matter the time of year.

No business wants to mess up seasonal postage when so many people are relying on gifts for Christmas. Timing is crucial and every penny counts. Taking charge of their seasonal shipping operation is the best present a business can give themselves. It’s a period where every company will have to work extra hard to distinguish its quality of service from its competitors’.

Working with 71lbs can optimize your shipping operation and sprinkle a little management magic on any shipping department.

71lbs simplifies seasonal shipping

Premium Tracking, Proof of Delivery and Shipping Exceptions Reporting are just a few of our many services that will keep you and your customers empowered with real-time data – which helps businesses keep carriers accountable while letting customers know where their goods are every step of the way. We’re also on your side when it comes to fighting for any refunds due to you – which could be a big help during a season where UPS will be delivering for weeks without any guarantees.

Everything we do is designed to streamline your shipping and save you money. We don’t charge sign- up fees or monthly bills, so why not give us a spin this season? You’ll be glad you did.

At 71lbs, we focus on two things: a) helping customers save money on shipping, and b) helping customers understand their shipping costs. We provide you refunds, savings in shipping insurance, freight, and imports, among others. Our automated dashboard displays easy-to-understand shipping costs and insights so you can make better business decisions. Drop by the contact page to get in touch!

Topics: FedEx, Holidays, Optimize, Shipping

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