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How to Navigate Shipping Disruptions This Holiday Season

September 30, 2021 | Published by Faire

With the busiest sales season of the year just around the corner, supply chain issues and shipping delays are top of mind for many makers and retailers. Brands, buyers, and consumers are all likely to face additional obstacles this year. While these setbacks are no walk in the park, obstacles are meant to be overcome. With a little knowledge of what to expect and a lot of careful planning you can set yourself up for successful global shipping this holiday season. Here are some factors to consider when fulfilling orders domestically and internationally during the 2021 holidays.

Get to know current global shipping challenges

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that shipping delays are to be expected across the globe this holiday season. Pandemic-related disruptions to global supply chains have continued for more than 18 months, and several other factors have further impacted global shipping to cause shortages of commodities and consumer products. In fact, delays of up to six weeks could apply to some international and domestic shipments during the 2021 holiday season. This could affect your incoming shipments of raw materials as well as outgoing shipments to your retailers and consumers. There’s no time like the present to prepare for these challenges.

Customers expect full transparency during the shipping and fulfillment process now more than ever, as online shopping has become a preferred way to buy for retailers and consumers alike. In a recent Faire survey, 70% of retailers reported they’re buying earlier this year compared to previous holiday seasons. Planning ahead now and setting clear expectations about shipping times can help create a smoother and more transparent buying experience for your retailers.

What’s causing delays?

Whichever global shipping options you choose this holiday season, you can expect additional delays. Experts agree that the immense network of container vessels, ports, trucking companies, warehouses, and air freight shippers that keeps goods moving around the world is jammed. Major companies have also warned of increased shipping times and limited supplies of key products through the end of the year. 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

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

The first step for global shipping success during the 2021 holidays is to simplify your shipping plan with Faire’s seamless order management tools and international guides. In our Help Center you’ll find helpful tips for U.S. brands shipping to Europe and Canada as well as for 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 as soon as possible

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. First of all, you’ll want to 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, Canada, and 15 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, including the following:

  • 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

Being 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, USPS will be instituting some new seasonal cost increases this year. 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.    

Be aware of 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 only takes a minute to visit your Orders page and look up a customer’s tracking information.

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 best sellers.

We’re here to help with all your holiday shipping needs. View our Help Center for more detailed information on fulfilling orders with Faire.

New to Faire? Click here to learn more.

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