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Hi! I’m Lucy.
Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
Holiday shipping delays are a really regular part of the season. As online shopping continues to be the preferred method of customers, the shipping delays also keep growing.
On the bright side, since in-person shopping has opened up again, the shipping delays are not nearly as bad as in years past. The New York Times reported an estimated 3 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) packages sent by the end of the holiday season in 2020. They are not nearly as high this year.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Delays are a part of the season, even without a pandemic raging throughout the world! There are several things we can do as business owners to manage delays when they occur.
✓ Banner announcements on your website letting people know that there may be delays in the USPS system due to the seasonal rush.
✓ Messages in your purchase confirmation emails reminding your customers of these delays.
✓ Making sure your customers are receiving the tracking numbers for all packages. (And yes, they should all have tracking numbers if they are packages.)
Yes, I know this one is sometimes easier said than done. But the only part of the shipping process you can control is when the product actually leaves your hands and gets into the system.
If it is at all possible, consider listing only your ready-made items, or make it REALLY clear that made-to-order/custom items may not arrive in time for Christmas. Then, get those packages picked, packed, and out the door ASAP!
I shipped over 100 packages on December 1st last year, and I ended up with 5 that seemed to be taking the long way ‘round to get to their destinations.
I put in a help request through the USPS website, and I actually got individual (albeit canned) responses to each request. One of those responses included this little tidbit of information:
“There is a backlog of mail/packages being processed on a first come first served based on its mailing class.”
This leads me to my next point:
USPS first class packages are close to the bottom of the list of priorities when it comes to shipping, so consider upgrading your shipping method to Priority Mail. To counterbalance the increase costs, you could:
✓ Offer an automatic upgrade on orders over $X.
✓ Offer optional shipping upgrades for an additional price (you can update your shipping settings on your website or in your shipping profile on Etsy).
You’re an artist, right? Well it’s time to get crafty with problem-solving!
If it looks like that package just isn’t going to arrive, be prepared with an alternative solution.
One way to wow your customer would be to provide them with a beautiful graphic depicting the product they purchased in a “gift certificate” format (I’d turn to Canva to make this a snap!). This ensures that they won’t be caught empty-handed when it’s time for the gift exchange.
People get most upset when something unexpected happens. We as humans like to know what’s coming next, and when there is a breakdown in communication, that’s when conflict happens.
YES, it is an uncomfortable conversation to have with your customer.
Telling them that their package is delayed can feel like, “Hey there Susie Customer! Thanks for buying from me. But it won’t be there before Christmas. Thanks for the cash, though!”
I PROMISE you, though, keep the lines of communication open and you will be AMAZED at the results. Let them know that you are aware of the delay and that you are tracking their package. Keep them posted when you get updates. They will appreciate it all, I promise!
Will your customers be disappointed if the package doesn’t arrive on time? Yeah, probably.
Will they feel like you ghosted them after they supported your small business? NOPE!
Some of my best customers have come from these kinds of sticky situations. Take this as your opportunity to be overly kind, overly generous, and overly understanding.
Speaking of awesome things to come, my signature course will be opening up for new students in the beginning of 2023! Members of the Bloom community will get the first invitations, so make sure you’re a member of the group!
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!