2021 Year-End Planning for Your FedEx and UPS Shipments

November 15, 2021 at 9:43 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Year-End Planning for Your FedEx and UPS Shipments

The end of the year is usually pretty hectic for a lot of businesses, but 2021 is proving to be one for the books. As you navigate the holiday season and prepare for the year ahead, you’ll want to heed our warnings for your FedEx and UPS parcel shipments.

Ship early
We can’t stress this enough. Delays are becoming more common and will likely get worse the closer we get to Christmas. The FedEx and UPS networks are very strained right now. Fueled by the pandemic and all of its ripple effects, demand for parcel services is at an all-time high. Both FedEx and UPS have suspended service guarantees for their ground services and some of their air/express services, which means you can’t leave things up to chance. Ship early and build in plenty of extra time where you can so you don’t run into major disruptions.

Review holiday shipping deadlines
For retailers, this is especially important. As customers place their orders for holiday gifts, they’ll want to know that they’ll receive them before the big day. FedEx and UPS have released their shipping deadlines, so make sure to review them and plan accordingly. That way you’ll be able to manage expectations appropriately and keep your customers happy.

Prepare for the 2022 rate increases
Don’t sleep on the fact that after you make it through the holiday season, your FedEx and UPS rates will be going up. Both carriers announced that they will be increasing their rates by an average of 5.9%. It’s tempting to take that announced average and budget for your costs to go up by that much, but unfortunately it’s not that simple.

How much your rates will go up in the new year will largely depend on which services you use, your package characteristics, and where you’re shipping to/from. That 5.9% average also doesn’t account for surcharges which can drive up your costs even more. If this all sounds like a major analysis that you don’t have the time to conduct, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve reviewed the updated rate charts for you. Download our free guide to see a full analysis of what you can expect.

The Essential Guide to the 2022 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases.

Freight Carrier Closures for the 2021 Holiday Season

November 3, 2021 at 4:25 PMJen Deming
2021 Freight Carrier Closures Blog

2021 has been another challenging year. The freight market continues to be oversaturated with available loads while simultaneously suffering from a capacity crisis. Transit times are delayed, so to ensure timely delivery (you can't count on eight tiny reindeer), you must plan ahead and create a flexible shipping schedule. You'll also need to be mindful of carrier closure dates. We've compiled a list to keep on hand when you're executing your holiday shipping strategy.

Freight carrier closures

  • Saia LTL Freight - will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • YRC Freight – will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31.
  • XPO Logistics – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • ArcBest – will be closed November 25-26, and December 24.
  • R+L Carriers – will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31.
  • Estes – will be closed November 25-26, and December 24.
  • Dayton Freight – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • PittOhio – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • AAA Cooper – will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.
  • TForce Freight - will be closed November 25-26, December 23-24, and December 31.

Santa has his elves, you have a team at PartnerShip

With extra challenges facing your business this year, keep in mind that the freight experts at PartnerShip can help you successfully manage your holiday shipping. Our office will be closed November 25-26, December 24, and December 31 so that we can spend time with our families. Happy Holidays!

7 Strategies to Conquer Peak Season Returns

October 25, 2021 at 2:01 PMJen Deming
7 Strategies to Conquer Peak Season Returns

Shipping during the holidays can be a quite a challenge. Getting packages delivered on time is tough enough, but peak season returns can be an even greater headache. Return shipping is just a part of the retail experience, but with proper planning it is possible to control. Review these seven strategies before you create that plan to help to ensure a more seamless process for your peak season returns.

Strategy #1: Commit to full transparency regarding your return policy

When you think about your own shopping preferences, it becomes clear that reviewing a return policy before purchase is standard procedure. This is especially important if your peak season return policy is different than the rest of the year. Shoppers want to know what they’re getting into before they click “place my order.” When a retailer makes return information easily accessible, the buyer is more likely to make a purchase because there is less risk. 

Proactively communicate the policy in places like order confirmations and follow-up emails. It’s also key to stay in contact during all stages of the buying process. Send order tracking links in emails, send delivery notifications, and create a clear FAQ section on your website that includes contact options. The more information you have readily available for customers, the more confident your buyers will be.

Strategy #2: Optimize your packaging procedures

Shipment volume is alarmingly high, and will be compounded during the holidays. During peak times, your packages will spend more time in transit and encounter more stops along the way. That means more handling at service terminals, which can result in added damages. Take a hard look at your return rates related to damaged shipments. If you’re seeing an above-average trend, consider whether your packaging procedures need to be adjusted. It may make sense to use boxes rather than mailers, for example. Minimizing extra space and adding more bubble wrap or packing foam can better protect your products. If you’re sending out large items, consider breaking them down for transit rather than shipping them assembled. Don’t underestimate how much your packaging can affect your return rate due to damages. 

Strategy #3: Limit returns that are caused by late deliveries

There are always last-minute holiday shoppers — you might even know a few. Late deliveries often lead to returns during the peak season, since they didn’t arrive in time for the big date. Ensure that you make it very clear for customers what the cutoff dates are for their order to be shipped in time for Christmas. An easy-to-scan reference table of this information will help your shoppers avoid late arrivals. 

To determine those cutoff dates, be sure to review the deadlines published by your carrier. You may also want to add in some buffer days in case of any unforeseen delays. During the peak season when demand is high, unfortunately there can be a higher risk of your orders not being delivered in time. 

Make sure you’re also offering expedited options at check-out, to provide a solution for shoppers who need a quicker turnaround. For serious stragglers, offer in-store pick-up if you have a brick-and-mortar option. 

Strategy #4: Improve your returns plan by auditing your process yearly

It’s never a good idea to assume this year’s peak season returns strategy should be the same as last year. Every year, your returns plan and options need to be reviewed. Your first step should be to take a look at your returns rate and the reasons for the returns. Find out whether items are being returned due to product performance, or other issues like damages or late delivery. If it turns out that you have a shipping issue, make sure you’re following our tips mentioned above. 

After you take care of any shipping challenges, look at what returns options measure up with what you can feasibly afford. Free shipping of any kind is a perk, but you need to be mindful of your budget and compensate for that expense. Consider a flexible policy, such as free returns on full-price items, or within a certain window of time. Think about charging for delivery, but keeping returns free. When you’re reviewing whether these options will fit your budget, don’t forget to check carrier rate changes and peak surcharges, both of which affect your shipping costs. From there, you can adjust your returns plan as-needed. 

Strategy #5: Consider on-demand warehousing to simplify orders and returns

The overhead costs involved in setting up and maintaining a warehouse are expensive. Due to the cyclical nature of the industry, many retailers don’t find it worth it to use in-house solutions. On-demand warehousing is a great opportunity for businesses that need short-term fulfillment options but don’t want to be under contract. This strategy helps increase flexibility by housing inventory only when needed. If you have seasonal inventory overflow, on-demand options can help eliminate long-term commitments. For businesses that do not need a warehouse year-round, on-demand warehousing is the way to go. 

Strategy #6 Give your customers a variety of return options

Consumers want return options that fit into their busy lives. Don’t complicate the relationship you have with your customers by making an already disappointing situation even worse. Offer methods that fit preferences and convenience, such as a choice to return product online and in-store. In-store returns give retailers more facetime with the customer and offer a better chance of turning the transaction into an exchange. However, many shoppers want the convenience and time-saving choice of shipping back their order. Consider using carriers like FedEx that allow drop offs at a variety of locations, including FedEx Ship Centers, drop-off boxes, Office Depot, Walgreens, and more.

Strategy #7 Make shipping peak season returns as easy as possible for your customer

While you probably want to avoid returns as often as possible, don’t try to dodge them completely by making the process super complicated. Smart retailers know that they cannot always be avoided — the ultimate goal is to use returns as an opportunity to increase brand satisfaction. Remind your customer of your returns and replacement policy throughout the buying process. Include return information on your order confirmation page and within follow up emails. Choose secure packaging that can be reused if needed, and include labels and instructions for returns with the product you’re shipping out. Think long-term — customers that have a bad experience with a retailer this year, will actively avoid them in the future. Making returns easy creates a positive buying experience, and increases confidence for both you and the customer.

Putting the strategies into action

Retail and peak season returns go hand-in-hand. They aren’t ideal, but if you know how to prepare, manage, and use them to your advantage, your business can thrive during the holidays. PartnerShip has strong relationships with a variety of retail groups, and we are uniquely positioned to help strategize your returns process in a way that works best for your business. From on-demand warehouse solutions to saving money on the costs of returns, we can help make your holiday season a success.

Contact Us Today

4 Ways to Ruin Your Holiday Shipping

October 18, 2021 at 4:42 PMJen Deming

Parcel shipping during the holidays is tough. From inventory mismanagement to carrier delays, there are plenty of obstacles that can get in the way of a seamless holiday shipping experience. In our newest video, we take a look at the four mistakes that can absolutely sabotage your peak season shipping.




Ship Early: FedEx and UPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2021

October 14, 2021 at 11:10 AMLeah Palnik
2021 Holiday Shipping Deadlines for FedEx and UPS

As you prepare your store for the influx of orders that come with the holiday season, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the shipping deadlines. Both FedEx and UPS have announced the last dates you can ship your orders and make it in time for a Christmas delivery.

While it’s important to note these deadlines every year, it will be especially crucial this year. UPS and FedEx are currently struggling to keep up with demand for small package shipments and it’s only going to get worse the closer we get to the holidays. To keep your customers happy and set the right expectations, we recommend clearly communicating the shipping cutoff dates and adding in extra days in case of delays.

FedEx has published a complete visual list of the last days to ship. Here are some highlights for domestic shipments:

  • December 9 for FedEx Ground Economy
  • December 15 for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery
  • December 21 for FedEx Express Saver
  • December 22 for FedEx 2Day and 2Day AM
  • December 23 for FO, PO, SO, and Extra Hours
  • December 24 for FedEx Same Day

UPS has also created a list of the last days to ship for Christmas delivery. Unfortunately, one thing that is missing is a specific cutoff date for Ground shipments. You will need to get a quote on the UPS website instead. For domestic UPS air shipments, the dates are as follows:

  • December 21 for UPS 3 Day Select
  • December 22 for UPS 2nd Day Air
  • December 23 for UPS Next Day Air services

It’s also important to note that service guarantees are currently suspended for both FedEx and UPS ground services. The main takeaway? You’ll want to encourage your customers to order early and do what you can to add in extra days when setting delivery expectations.

If you're looking for any additional guidance or need a way to lower your small package costs, PartnerShip can help. Contact our team today.

Carrier Closures for the 2020 Holiday Season

November 19, 2020 at 3:00 AMJen Deming
2020 Holiday Schedule Blog Post

2020 has been a year unlike any other. With the holiday season upon us, managing your shipment timelines is more important than ever. Most carriers have strict cut-off dates to ensure your holiday cheer is delivered on time, and with COVID-19 stretching available carriers extra thin this year, it’s more important than ever to plan accordingly. Whether you’re shipping small packages to customers, or need to order seasonal supplies for your business, we’ve broken down the most important holiday shipping dates that you need to know.

Freight carrier holiday schedule

Truck in SnowTruck drivers deserve some time off too, and it’s important for shippers to know which dates carriers are closed for business so you can plan your loads. Here are the 2020 holiday season closure dates for some common freight carriers:

  • UPS Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on New Year’s Eve, December 31.
  • YRC Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 23-25, and January 1-2.
  • XPO Logistics will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Old Dominion will be closed November 26, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service hours on November 27 and December 31.
  • New Penn will be closed November 26-27, December 23-25, December 31, and January 1.
  • Pitt Ohio will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Reddaway will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service hours on December 23 and December 31.
  • Dayton Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • R&L Carriers will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Estes will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Central Transport will be closed November 26 and December 25. There will be limited service hours on November 27 and December 24.
  • Roadrunner will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • FedEx Freight will be closed November 26-28, December 24-25, and January 1. 
  • Holland will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service November 27, December 23, and December 31.
  • AAA Cooper will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • ArcBest will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
Truck in Snow

Small package carrier closures and deadline dates

With a holiday season projected to be bigger than any other, it’s super important to review holiday carrier schedules and deadlines. For your shipments moving with FedEx, make sure to reference the FedEx holiday schedule so you can plan ahead. If you're using UPS to ship during the season, remember to check the UPS year-end holiday schedule beforehand.

PartnerShip schedule

If the unprecedented volume of holiday shipments has you saying "no, no, no" instead of "ho, ho, ho," the experts at PartnerShip can help. Please keep in mind that our office will be closed on November 26-27, December 25, and January 1. Happy Holidays from PartnerShip, and hang in there -  we're welcoming 2021 with open arms!

5 Crucial Holiday Shipping Strategies for Ecommerce Sellers

October 9, 2020 at 11:27 AMLeah Palnik
Get Control of Your Holiday Shipments

As a consumer, it might feel like it’s too soon to start thinking about the holidays, but retailers know that waiting is not an option. If you’re an ecommerce seller, you’ve probably already been stocking up your inventory and preparing for the increase in traffic to your site. As you’re getting ready for this busy time of year, keep these crucial holiday shipping strategies in mind.

  1. Reduce your parcel rates
    Shipping orders to your customers can get expensive, fast. While some of the big players in ecommerce can negotiate discounted rates directly with FedEx and UPS, that doesn’t mean that the smaller sellers have to suffer. If you belong to a trade association or a chamber of commerce, check out their member benefits. Many groups offer parcel discounts with UPS or FedEx that are included as part of your membership.

  2. Consider on-demand warehousing options
    If you don’t need year-round warehouse space, but your orders ramp up significantly during the holiday season, consider using on-demand warehousing. This can help alleviate the pressure on your existing operations, in a time when it’s crucial that everything runs smoothly. A key part of this strategy is also the added ability to reach your customers sooner. It’s no secret that meeting customer expectations for deliveries is essential to your business, and with the right warehousing partner, you’ll be able to reduce transit times and gain access to cost-effective expedited services.

  3. Clearly communicate shipping deadlines
    There are some of us who are guilty of waiting until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. When’s the last day to order for Christmas? Do you offer expedited options or any special seasonal guarantees that could give you a leg up over the competition? Managing customer expectations for holiday shipping will increase your customer satisfaction. Clearly communicate this information on your website, during the purchasing process, and in emails to your subscribers.

  4. Consider special promotions
    Now is the time to pull out all the stops to maximize your sales. People are looking to buy, and it’s your job to incentivize them to spend their hard earned dollars on your site. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, 50% of shoppers cited a limited-time sale or promotion as the reason they were swayed to purchase an item they were on the fence about.

    Even more notable, 64% of shoppers said that free shipping has influenced them to make a purchase. Offering free shipping has become the new normal in the world of ecommerce. If you’re worried about the costs of “free shipping” there are several different strategies you could try. For example, try setting the free shipping threshold above your average order amount to increase the amount people spend when making a purchase on your site. When executed properly, consumers will be more likely to add items to their cart to meet the minimum and it becomes a win-win.

  5. Set up a streamlined returns process
    With increased holiday sales comes the inevitable – returns. According to a Narvar Consumer Report, 74% of customers said return shipping fees will prevent them from making a purchase. On the flip side, 72% said that a “no questions asked” return policy would make them more likely to buy from a retailer. The influence of the return policy on the purchase decision is undeniable. Make your return policy as customer friendly as possible and communicate it clearly at the beginning of the shopping experience. Also, take proactive steps like providing return labels in the original order and offering in-store returns so it is less of a headache for you and your customers.

Striking a balance between appealing customer promotions and the right holiday shipping strategies can help make your season bright. If you need to reduce your parcel costs or could use some help with storage and fulfillment, PartnerShip has you covered. Our shipping and warehousing services set ecommerce sellers up for success. Contact us today to learn how you can ship smarter.

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All Wrapped Up in Holiday Cheer!

December 19, 2019 at 2:18 PMJen Deming

Yearly traditions are a huge part of the way we celebrate the holiday season, from family cookie swaps to white elephant gift exchanges. At PartnerShip, we like to participate in holiday office traditions with our very own work family. One extra special tradition that we look forward to each and every year is our PartnerShip Giving Tree. 

Giving Tree

The holidays can be festive and fun, but for those children currently waiting to be placed in a forever family or loving foster home, holiday spirit and joy can be hard to find. That's why every year, we like to work alongside Caring For Kids Adoption and Foster Agency based in Cuyahoga Falls, hoping to guarantee a little seasonal magic. Caring For Kids, Inc and the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program provides PartnerShip with the opportunity to host several kiddos and grant their wish lists, ensuring they have happy holiday memories and experience the joy every kid should this time of year.

On our giving tree hangs gift tags with a child's name, picture, and wish list - everything from clothing items to Cavs tickets. Members of our PartnerShip staff can select a tag and purchase the wish list gift, playing Secret Santa to those who need it most.Caring for Kids Later, Senior Program Manager Harry, "Centa" Claus, delivers the wrapped gifts (Santa suit optional) to Caring For Kids to be distributed by the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Program. This year, we are hosting six remarkable kids, and have plans to cross every wish off their list. 

It's easy to get swept up year round, focusing on business goals, tackling initiatives, and even getting wrapped up in end of year responsibilities and our own "to do" lists. It's important to step back, slow down, and remember the true spirit of the season. Working with Caring For Kids reminds us to do just that, and allows us to spread some holiday cheer along the way. 

Happy Holidays!

Employee Spotlight: the Hardman Blanket Drive

December 18, 2019 at 8:44 AMJen Deming
Employee Spotlight: The Hardmans

It's the season of giving, and this time of year we like to celebrate those who go above and beyond to help those in need. At PartnerShip, we have two employees we'd like to spotlight for their commitment to spreading the spirit of the season, as well as touch on their own personal experience with an extra special cause.

Lucas Hardman

In spring of 2011, Brian and Nicole Hardman welcomed their first child, Lucas, into the world. Lucas was soon diagnosed with a severe form of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare and painful genetic disease that affects the connective skin tissue, resulting in extremely fragile skin that can blister or tear at the slightest touch. There is no cure for EB, and often the disease is debilitating or in the worst cases, lethal. Wound care, pain management, and preventative bandaging are currently the only options for those afflicted.

Unfortunately, Lucas passed away about a month after his birth. Nicole and Brian are dedicated to raising awareness about "the worst disease you've never heard of" and participate in fundraisers and other benefits working with debra of America, the only U.S. nonprofit providing support to the EB community through funding research and providing free resources. 

Every holiday season, Nicole and Brian organize a baby blanket drive in memory of Lucas, for those babies currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. In a time of great fear and uncertainty, the baby blankets provided by the hospital offered comfort and joy to the Hardmans while Lucas was admitted. So, in his honor, the Hardmans collect monetary or blanket donations from those who would like to support families in need. 

ALT Baby Blankets

The hospital is grateful for any blanket donation, as long as it's new and still within it's original packaging. This is the ninth year that the Hardmans will be hosting the drive, with the total baby blankets collected running over a thousand. Each and every year Nicole and Brian are moved by the generosity and love shown by those willing to donate to a cause that is so very close to their hearts. 

"The blanket drive has become such a special holiday tradition for our family. The kindness and generosity that these blankets represent help keep our son's memory alive during a time of year when we miss him so much. We know in our hearts that helping other babies and families is the best Christmas present we can give to Lucas. While a blanket may not seem like much, we know first-hand how much comfort it can bring, even if only for a brief moment. We are deeply grateful to everyone who has donated in our baby boy's memory." -Nicole Hardman, December 2019

To learn more about EB and how you can help, visit the Love for Lucas Facebook Page.

2019 Holiday Shipping Schedule

November 22, 2019 at 10:13 AMJen Deming
Holiday Shipping Schedule

It might be the most wonderful time of the year but getting your shipping in order during the holiday crunch can cause more headaches than too much eggnog. Most carriers adjust their holiday shipping schedules to include back-out dates and cut-off times on certain days of the year. Whether you are moving a truckload of trees or simply delivering to a customer's doorstep, it's important to take note of key dates to keep your holiday shipping running smoothly.

Holiday schedules for LTL freight carriers

You can't get your shipment moving if there's no trucks on the road. In LTL freight shipping, it's critical to check which dates your chosen carrier will be closed. Below, we've noted the most common freight carriers and their holiday shipping schedules for 2019:

  • YRC Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and December 31-January 1.
  • XPO Logistics will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Old Dominion will be closed November 28, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on November 29 and December 31.
  • New Penn will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on December 31.
  • Pitt Ohio will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Reddaway will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Dayton Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • R&L Carriers will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Estes will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • Central Transport will be closed November 28, December 25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on November 28 and December 24.
  • Roadrunner will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • FedEx Freight will be closed November 28-30, December 21-22, 24-25, 28-29, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on December 23 and December 31.
  • Holland will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited operating hours on December 31.
  • New England Motor Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • AAA Cooper will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • ArcBest will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1.
  • UPS Freight will be closed November 28-29, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on December 1.

When it comes to your smaller, ground shipments, it's important to keep on top of peak surcharges during the holiday season. While both FedEx and UPS have announced that they will not implement additional fees on residential shipments, those that are over-sized or require additional handling will. UPS will apply surcharges to larger packages from October 1-January 4. Charges will be applied for those packages requiring additional handling from November 24-January 4. FedEx will charge extra for larger packages from October 21-January 5. The carrier will apply peak surcharges for those that require additional handling from November 18-January 5.

Deadlines and closures for small package shipments

For your small package shipments being moved by FedEx, make sure to check out the last days to ship and reference the 2019 holiday schedule so you can adjust your own holiday shipping schedule. 

FedEx holiday schedule graphic

PartnerShip office schedule

If your holiday shipping has you frazzled, PartnerShip can help you get sorted this season. Just a reminder, our office will be closed so we can enjoy time with our families November 28-29, December 25, and January 1. Happy Holidays!