How to prepare for Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

The holidays are just around the corner, and as usual, there will be last-minute shoppers. Your holiday prep probably started earlier than normal this year — probably in March! There was a sharp increase in e-commerce traffic in 2020 and this expansion is cresting with the holiday purchasing season. With this wave of holiday shopping battering e-commerce sellers, it’s inevitable that the last-minute shoppers that typically do a mad rush through the mall may also turn online.

All your planning that you have put into place for your holiday rush is really going to be put to the test during this home stretch. Understanding consumer expectations and your timelines for getting these December purchases to clients in time is a outstanding way to prevent holiday yields and grow your client base. Here are some ways to help you prepare for those last-minute shoppers:

Help Customers Verify Addresses

Ensuring that your clients incorporate the perfect addresses is essential for late shoppers in 2020. In decades past, buyers would travel with their presents, but 2020 has more gifts delivered to the final recipient (this is also an instance where offering gift-wrapping could pay off). But this raises the possibility of improperly entered shipping addresses. And with less time to reroute parcels, you could be looking at returned orders. With a delivery platform which verifies the addresses can lower headaches afterwards.

Prepare for Returns

Instore yields have dropped a bit last year. ShipStation found that 67 percent of consumers aren’t as likely to complete a return in stores for a long term. However, returns are still common. Actually, ShipStation also found that 86 percent of customers say that ease of returns is a substantial element when making a previous purchase. Much like everything else going more online in 2020, yields have too, so expect to start 2021 off with customers exploring exchange or return choices.

Incentivize Exchanges

Clients could be incentivized to exchange. Offering coupons for exchanges are a fantastic way to stop entire refunds. Additional exchanging an undesired present for the perfect thing can grow your customer base further.

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How Clients Prefer Returns

In the same poll, ShipStation found that clients have preferred methods of initiating returns to vendors. If any of these methods work for your business, here is how they are preferred:

  1. Free returns remain the most crucial element for returns, although it’s down somewhat from years ago.
  2. Clients prefer starting a return to be as easy as placing an order. Features like a self-evident returns portal make this easier.
  3. Including prepaid returns in the box are also common. This may be tricky to provide and generally comes down to customers not having to print a label.

Know Consumer Expectations about Shipping

Apart from returns, COVID-19 has reshaped what customers want from shipping. To stay in tune with your customers, check out ShipStation’s Last Touch, Lasting effect ebook to know what your customers expect from online retailers.

Know Your Carrier’s Deadlines

With the pandemic tightening its grip on supply chains, less international commercial flights which many carriers use to send parcels, and an increase in online orders, it is not surprising that shipping deadlines average an extra business day for orders to reach their final destinations over years back. Here are some of the substantial carrier anticipated holiday shipping deadlines in the coming weeks into the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

US Holiday Shipping Deadlines


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Retail Ground™ Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
First Class Mail® Friday, December 18th, 2020
Priority Mail® Saturday, December 19th, 2020
Priority Mail Express® Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

For USPS’s international shipping deadlines, head here.


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx SmartPost® Wednesday, December 9th, 2020*
FedEx Ground® Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
Home Delivery® Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
Express Saver® Monday, December 21st, 2020
2Day® Services Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
Overnight® Services Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020
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For FedEx’s international shipping deadlines, head here.
*Exceptions may apply


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
Ground® Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
3 Day Select® Monday, December 21st, 2020
2nd Day Air® Services Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
Next Day Air® Services Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

For UPS’s international shipping deadlines, head here.

Canada Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Canada Post

Canada Post is not supplying delivery guarantees for the 2020 holiday season. For the most up-to-date shipping deadlines, see the Canada Post delivery programs


Destination Send by
Next Day Delivery to Canada or US Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
Mexico, Caribbean, South and Central America, Western Europe [including the United Kingdom, France and Germany], Australia Friday, December 18th, 2020
East Asia [including China, Japan and Thailand] Thursday, December 17th, 2020
United States through Purolator Ground® Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East Friday, December 11th, 2020

To discover more about Purolator’s shipping deadlines, head here.


Service Shipping Cutoff Date
FedEx Overnight® Services Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020*
FedEx 2Day® Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020*
FedEx Economy® Monday, December 21st, 2020*
FedEx Ground® Monday, December 15th, 2020

For information on FedEx Canada’s international deadlines, head here.
*Allow 1-3 additional occasions when sending from western nations to Atlantic countries (includes Thunder Bay and surrounding areas ).


Origin Send by
BC Dec 11th-23rd, 2020*
AB Dec 14th-23rd, 2020*
SK Dec 14th-23rd, 2020BC
MB Dec 15th-23rd, 2020*
ON Dec 17th-23rd, 2020*
QC Dec 17th-23rd, 2020MB
NB/NS/PEI Dec 16th-23rd, 2020ON
NFLD Dec 11th-22nd, 2020*

Australia Holiday Shipping Deadlines


Service Latest Posting Dates
Express eParcel 18-23 December
Parcel Post 11-19 December

For a comprehensive list of Australia Post’s final post-by dates, click here.

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Service Latest Posting Dates
Express eParcel 18-23 December
Parcel Post 11-19 December


For CouriesPlease’s shipping deadlines click here.

Aramex Post-By Dates

For Aramex’s shipping deadlines click here.

UK Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Royal Mail Domestic Services

Service Last Posting Date
2nd Class; Royal Mail Signed For® 2nd Course Friday 18 December 2020
1st Class; Royal Mail Signed For® 1st Class Monday 21 December 2020
Royal Mail Tracked 48® Monday 21 December 2020
Royal Mail Tracked 24® Tuesday 22 December 2020
Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed® Wednesday 23 December 2020


Service Last Posting Date
Timed Services

Express 9, Express 10, Express AM, Express PM

Send by Wednesday 23 December 2020
Next Day Services

Express 24

Send by Wednesday 23 December 2020
Two Day Services

Express 48, Express 48 Big

Send by Tuesday 22 December 2020


Service Last Posting Date
daily for courier collection Saturday 19 December 2020
Last day for Standard Parcelshop drop-off Monday 21 December at 12:00 pm
Last day for Next Day Parcelshop drop-off Tuesday 22 December at 12:00 pm


For DPD national parcels, the last set date for delivery before Christmas Day will be Wednesday 23rd December 2020. Parcels gathered on Wednesday 23rd December will be anticipated for delivery on Thursday 24th December.

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