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How to Prepare for Shipping Disruptions This Holiday Season

September 30, 2021 | Published by Faire

As we head into the busiest retail season of the year, supply chain issues and shipping delays are top of mind for many small business owners. In a recent Faire survey, 70% of retailers reported they are shopping earlier this season compared to previous seasons, and nearly all surveyed retailers said they’ve already begun shopping for the holiday season. 

With shipping delays expected across the globe, preparing for the 2021 holiday season also means carefully planning for these additional obstacles. To help our retailer community have a successful holiday season, we’ve put together a guide on what to expect and how you can best prepare for shipping disruptions this year.

Prepare for what to expect

This holiday season, shipping delays are expected across the globe. Pandemic-related disruptions to global supply chains have continued for more than 18 months, and several other factors have caused shortages of commodities and consumer products. Experts have shared that the immense network of container vessels, ports, trucking companies, warehouses, and air freight shippers that keeps goods moving around the world is jammed. Delays of up to six weeks could apply to some international and domestic shipments during the 2021 holiday season. Some of the biggest obstacles at the moment include:

  • The closure of major sea ports in Asia
  • Bottlenecks in Europe and the United States
  • Shipping container shortages
  • Increases in air freight shipping
  • Lasting effects from the Suez Canal closure earlier this year

Learn about projected shipping times and costs

Being aware of projected shipping times and cost increases can help you plan your ordering this holiday season. Each carrier service has different holiday deadlines for 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. Visit the USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL websites to learn about the projected shipping costs, shipping time, and holiday deadlines for each carrier service to determine which is most cost-effective and efficient for your needs.

Additionally, USPS recently announced that they will temporarily increase the price on commercial and retail domestic package shipments from October 3, 2021 through December 26, 2021. This change makes placing orders as soon as possible even more appealing. Details on price increases can be found here.

For a limited time, Faire is covering freight and duties for our U.K. and European retailer community. Find out more with our Help Center guide. 

Place your orders early 

The central sentiment among retail business owners this holiday season is that buying early is the most promising approach. Placing your orders early is a good way to work potential shipping delays into your schedule, and to ensure you get all the products your customers want this holiday season. Additionally, many Faire brands say they’re setting earlier holiday cut-offs this year to anticipate longer shipping times. If there are certain products you know you definitely want to sell this year, order them soon, as they may not be available later on in the season. 

To help you get your holiday orders in early without the added stress, we’re offering net 90 terms between now and October 10 for eligible retailers. These terms mean you can stock your shelves for the season now and pay after the holidays. You’ll have a full 90 days after you place your order to pay, and you’ll also have 90 days to get free returns on opening orders. This allows you to try out new products this year and return any that don’t sell during the holiday rush. Visit the Help Center to learn more about our net 90 terms.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you have to place last-minute orders for the holidays, try searching for brands closer to home. Use Faire’s filters to search products by location, and find products that will ship either from your state or nearby. This will help cut down on shipping delays in a last-minute rush.  

Carefully plan your inventory

This year, you’ll want to have your holiday inventory plan in place as soon as possible. This means determining which products you want to order, how much you may need, and carefully looking at your budget. The 2021 holiday season is already looking to be a busy one, and according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast, retail sales are predicted to increase between 7% and 9% this year. After a busier than expected 2020 holiday shopping season, many Faire retailers say they’re ordering more inventory than usual this year to last them through the season. Ordering more inventory now can also help bypass any planned spikes in shipping costs and further delays that may come later on in the season. 

A good place to start your inventory planning is to figure out what your top sellers have been in previous years and prioritize ordering those first. The rising costs of raw materials means that some brands may be forced to increase their prices, and by ordering your must-have items first, you’ll be able to determine how much of your budget remains for the rest of your holiday inventory. 

If you don’t have the budget to buy more this year, you can repurpose existing inventory or backstock for the holidays. Get creative with your marketing and use visual merchandising to position your products as excellent holiday gifts. Alternatively, consider ordering less seasonal-specific items in lieu of evergreen bestsellers. 

Pay attention to lead times and communicate with brands

An easy way to make sure your products will arrive within the desired timeframe 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. You’ll then be able 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 pre-set lead times and shipping windows, you can also contact the brand directly. In a recent survey, almost 50% of retailers reported they are communicating directly with brands to understand lead times and plan accordingly. By communicating with a brand directly, you can find out 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

You’ll also want to keep a closer eye on order status this year. You can track your order and access your tracking number in your retailer portal.

Communicate with your customers

Finally, it’s important that you 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. If you have an e-commerce site, prominently display shipping rates and times on your website, and communicate holiday order cutoff dates. You can also encourage shoppers to visit your store in person and offer curbside pickup to cut down on your shipping needs. 


We’re here to help with all your holiday shipping needs. View our Help Center guides for more detailed information on ordering for the holidays with Faire.

New to Faire? Click here to learn more.

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