With December 25 less than two months away, Christmas delivery deadlines are fast-approaching, meaning it’s crunch time for retailers. Many businesses generate more than a quarter of their annual revenue during the fourth quarter of the calendar year. 

It’s crucial to capture as many sales as possible in the lead-up to Christmas, but this requires some extra planning for online retailers (and their customers), since a few additional days need to be factored in for shipping. If customers aren’t certain they’ll receive their order before December 25, they probably won’t purchase. 

The Christmas delivery deadline is going to be even more important this year, since Covid-19 is expected to cause a big increase in online shopping and strain delivery networks. Australia Post believes 2020 will be its busiest festive season yet. 

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your parcels are delivered on time, so you can reassure your customers and keep generating sales. 

Get customers shopping now!

The rise of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in Australia have recently made November, not December, the biggest month in the retail calendar. That’s good news, because the more you can spread out holiday shopping, the better chance you have of delivering orders on time. 

But you can’t rely on this emerging trend entirely, you need to remind customers to start their Christmas shopping early and clearly communicate your cut-off dates for different types of delivery through banner ads on your website, EDMs and digital advertising.

According to Square, 48% of sellers that use the POS system saw sales peak in December in 2018, compared to 46% in November and 25% in October. While the numbers might have shifted slightly over the past two years, it’s safe to say that a lot of people still put off their Christmas shopping until the last minute.  

Besides encouraging customers to place their orders early, you should also highlight the importance of giving couriers permission to leave parcels at their address if nobody comes to the door. This is known as ATL, or authority to leave, and it can be a deal-breaker for on-time deliveries during peak season. 

If customers don’t allow ATL at checkout, and they don’t come to the door when their parcel arrives, the courier will be forced to arrange a re-delivery, which could take longer than normal at this time of year. However, it’s important to note that couriers will only leave a parcel if there is a safe place to do so that is hidden from plain sight. 

Win sales by promoting and delivering on fast shipping

You can also make changes within your business to ensure you meet the Christmas delivery deadline. Fulfilling orders late at night can make a big difference in your processing time, since a significant chunk (32%) of online orders are placed between 7-10pm. Offering express shipping only in the final week before Christmas can also help minimise your risk of disappointing customers. 

If you use an aggregator platform like Shippit, which automatically finds the best courier for each delivery based on package type and destination, simply change your preference from ‘cheapest’ to ‘fastest’ for courier allocation in the final week before Christmas.

You should also consider adding a same-day delivery offer if you don’t already, since this will enable you to keep receiving orders beyond the cut-off dates for standard and express delivery. 

The collection deadline for same-city standard delivery orders is December 21, though it could be as early as December 14 depending on the destination. The collection deadline for express delivery is December 22, but for same-day delivery, it’s 1pm on December 23, which means you can keep receiving orders from all those last-minute shoppers. 

Shippit makes it easy to add a same-day delivery option to your offer, with prices starting at just $6.10 excluding GST for delivery in 3-hour time slots between 9am and 4pm in metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

These tips don’t just apply to Christmas, they can also help you manage the delivery crunch around other major events at this time of year, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles Day and Click Frenzy.