The Full Scoop on Inside Delivery

August 24, 2022 at 10:13 AMJen Deming

When you don't have a loading dock for your freight, your options can seem pretty limited when it comes to delivery. Luckily, many LTL freight carriers offer inside delivery - a convenient service that comes at an extra cost. Learn all about inside delivery in our newest video.

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.

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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.




How Small Retailers Can Save on Shipping Without Volume Discounts

August 12, 2021 at 1:42 PMJen Deming

Small businesses have it tough, and the fact that volume shipping discounts aren’t always an option makes shipping expensive. The good news is that small retailers have options to decrease shipping expenses without having to rely on volume discounts. Check out our helpful video to learn how. 




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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UPS and FedEx Peak Surcharges Announced for 2019

September 24, 2019 at 8:23 AMPartnerShip
2019 UPS and FedEx Peak Surcharges

UPS and FedEx have both announced that they will not apply peak season surcharges on residential deliveries this holiday shipping season. However, both companies will continue peak surcharges on large shipments and those requiring additional handling during the holidays.

During the 2018 holiday season, UPS applied a per package residential peak delivery surcharge of $0.28 for ground and $0.99 for air shipments. This year, the company is leveraging its expanded air and ground capacity, and automated sorting hubs and processing facilities, to pass cost savings on to customers in the form of no residential delivery peak surcharge. More than 75% of UPS's small package volume will pass through these automated facilities in peak 2019.

“We delivered a record-setting 2018 peak season in terms of both on-time delivery performance and operations execution,” said David Abney, UPS Chairman and CEO. “We will build on the lessons learned last year and leverage our new efficient air and ground capacity to make the 2019 peak season another success for customers, investors and other stakeholders.”

This is the third holiday season FedEx has not added additional peak surcharges on residential deliveries. With UPS and FedEx both not applying a residential delivery surcharge this year, it is great news for e-commerce retailers and online shoppers. Online sales are expected to grow 14% to 18% this holiday season, and in the past, these residential delivery surcharges were passed along to shoppers in the form of higher shipping costs.

It’s important to remember that both UPS and FedEx are implementing peak surcharges this holiday season on larger packages and those that require additional handling.

UPS peak surcharges will apply to larger packages from October 1 through January 4:

  • $31.45 per package for shipments that qualify as large (a 20% increase from 2018)
  • $250.00 per package for shipments that qualify as over maximum limits (a 51.5% increase)

UPS will apply peak surcharges for additional handling from November 24 through January 4:

  • $3.60 per package for shipments that require additional handling (a 14% increase)
FedEx peak surcharges will apply to larger packages from October 21 through January 5:

  • $37.60 per package for shipments that qualify as oversize (a 36.7% increase from 2018)
  • $435.00 per package for shipments that qualify as unauthorized (a 190% increase)
FedEx will apply peak surcharges for larger packages from November 18 through January 5:

  • $4.10 per package for shipments that requires additional handling (a 13.8% increase)

The growth of e-commerce and online shopping for large and awkwardly shaped products such as mattresses and furniture has necessitated these surcharges because heavy and bulky packages can’t move through the automated systems in which UPS and FedEx have heavily invested. Through these surcharges, shippers are paying the price for the loss of efficiency these packages represent.

If you’re a retailer, you should pay close attention to this year’s UPS and FedEx peak season surcharges so you can make any needed changes now to help ensure you remain profitable during the busy holiday shipping (and shopping) season. A good first step would be to look at the large packages you ship and determine which will be impacted by the peak surcharges.

The UPS and FedEx additional handling peak surcharge will be triggered by packages that:
  • Weigh more than 70 pounds
  • Measure more than 48 inches along its longest side and more than 30 inches along its second-longest side
  • Are not enclosed in traditional corrugated cardboard packaging

UPS Large Package and FedEx Oversize Package surcharges will be triggered by any package that exceeds 96 inches in length or 130 inches in length and girth.

UPS Over Maximum Limit and FedEx Unauthorized Package surcharges will be triggered by any package that exceeds 150 lbs., 165 inches in length and girth combined, or longer than 108 inches.

Surcharges for these packages are already high; additional UPS and FedEx peak surcharges represent an added dent to your bottom line. When deciding how to ship your small package shipments, or if you should use LTL to ship your oversized or heavy packages, you need an expert on your side. PartnerShip manages shipping programs for over 140 associations, providing exclusive discounts on small package shipments to their members. To find out if you qualify or to learn how you can ship smarter, contact us today.

FedEx and UPS rates will be going up after the holiday season! Make sure you know what to expect so you can mitigate the impact to your bottom line. Our free white paper breaks down where you'll find the highest increases and explains some of the complicated changes you need to be aware of.

Download the free white paper: Your Guide to the 2020 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases

Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?

November 20, 2015 at 10:17 AMLeah Palnik

Mark your calendars! Small Business Saturday® this year is November 28th. Since 2010, this day has been dedicated to supporting small businesses and local communities across the country. Last year, 88 million people got out to Shop Small®, making this "small" day a pretty big deal. 

If you own a small business be sure to take advantage of the free marketing materials you can use to promote the day and encourage shoppers to visit your business. The more you do to promote it, the more customers you'll see come through your door. 

If you're interested in shopping small, click here to find participating businesses for dinning, shopping, entertainment and more. You'll find a great tool to search for local merchants in your community that you can help support with your loyalty over the holiday shopping season.

Not only is PartnerShip a small business, but we also actively support thousands of other small businesses across North America with discounted shipping services and unique, value-added shipping solutions. We're glad to support this annual event which is sponsored by American Express. For more information on PartnerShip services and how we can help support your small business, click here to contact us.

Happy National Small Business Week!

May 4, 2015 at 9:00 AMMatt Nagel

PartnerShip prides itself on being able to help businesses of all shapes and sizes save on their shipping costs. Small businesses are an integral part of the United States economy and, every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing a National Small Business Week recognizing the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. This year, May 4-8th has been designated as the week to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the organization that coordinates this yearly event, and has designated this year's theme as "SBA: Dream Big. Start Small."

The week will highlight small businesses with events in Miami, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York City and culminating in Washington, D.C. where national winners will be recognized and awarded.  Additionally, recognition events throughout SBA’s 10 Regions and 68 Districts will be held throughout the months of May and June.

If you're interested in learning more about National Small Business Week, you can visit the SBA website. There you'll find a schedule of both live and online events and other helpful information.


eCommerce Benchmarks for Your Business

March 25, 2015 at 9:44 AMLeah Palnik