With a third wave of coronavirus underway, holiday sales are moving online in record numbers. And in perhaps the Grinchiest move of the year, national shipping companies are enacting their highest ever peak season surcharges.

FedEx, UPS and (for the first time ever) even the United States Postal Service have all announced price bumps of up to $4 per package and warned of delays. The result? Holiday shipping for retailers is becoming more prohibitive, including increased shipping costs, earlier deadlines and increased cost of goods sold for small businesses who rely on these shippers for inventory and supplies. Not the stocking stuffer many businesses were hoping for this critical holiday season.

Grow Your Business & Expand Your Reach

But even the biggest lump of coal has diamond potential. With expensive shipping fees and earlier deadlines, traditional e-commerce will be less attractive for buying things like gifts, flowers and the many holiday food and gift baskets that are often shipped across the country this time of year. Meanwhile, people are making conscious attempts to support small businesses now more than ever, made acutely aware of how much they are suffering during COVID-19. 

This means an extra merry holiday season for retailers that are willing to step up and provide convenient, safe delivery that equals–or perhaps exceeds–what people are used to getting from online retailers. Imagine sending a bakery’s fresh gingerbread cookies–delivered the same day they’re baked–instead of a tin of tri-colored popcorn shipped from halfway across the country. Once you can prove to people that local is both better and more convenient, you’ve got a customer for life. 

Make a list, check it twice.

Don’t let these shipping surcharges throw off your holiday season. Preparing for them and thinking creatively about alternatives can minimize their impact on your bottom line.

Provide local delivery & pickup when possible

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) has become increasingly popular during the pandemic. If you haven’t started leveraging this safe, convenient option for shoppers, now’s the time.

But many customers are accustomed to delivery, and a local delivery platform like Roadie can provide a competitively priced alternative to shipping. Same-day delivery will also provide an edge as shippers start to experience higher volume and delays. Start planning now to engage a local delivery platform.

Figure out added costs for shipping & delivery

Integrate any increased fees or surcharges into your pricing early so there are no surprises when your customers get to the checkout screen. Don’t forget to take your COGs into account – the surcharges will affect the price of your inventory and supplies. Consider incentivizing combined orders to reduce delivery fees and per-package surcharges. 

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Shipping delays are nearly guaranteed this year. Extend shipping times and communicate order deadlines to set expectations and ensure items are ordered with plenty of time to reach their destination. Give your customers visibility into tracking when possible.

Give Rudolph the day off. (Roadie’s got this.)

Flexible same-day delivery is the best way to get your goods under the tree, short of Santa himself. (And in 2020, Roadie’s contactless delivery options are probably a better choice than the Big Man.) With predictable pricing, personalized point-to-point delivery, and the ability to flex up and down, crowdsourced local delivery is a real gift in a year where consumer behavior is particularly unpredictable.

By thinking smart and planning ahead, local businesses can leverage the season’s shipping delays and surcharges to strengthen their local customer base and presence. And the right delivery strategy can ensure that your product is right where it needs to be, when it needs to be there – saving Christmas once and for all.