5 Ways to Handle the 2015 Holiday Shopping and Shipping Season Like a Pro (Infographic) Offering promotions and being aware of hidden shipping fees will help you maximize the cash before the New Year.

By Harry Whitehouse

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What do holiday shoppers care about most this year? Finding quality gifts at a great price. The average person is expected to spend around $805 this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation's latest holiday survey. While shoppers are on the hunt for something special, they're also looking to get the biggest bang for their buck.

Related: 6 Tactics to Generate More Revenue From Increased Holiday Website Traffic

Here are five tips for keeping your customers smiling -- and saving -- during the most important shopping season of the year.

1. Offer holiday promotions.

This year, consumers are looking for a good deal on wish-list items. Price is the primary driver of holiday spending choices for 87 percent of consumers, while 73 percent say that sales / discounts are an important factor. Will you offer free holiday shipping or a special holiday deal of the week? Whatever promotion you decide on, make sure to plan ahead.

2. Prep your online store.

Online holiday sales are expected to increase 6 to 8 percent this year, so it's important to make sure your ecommerce website is in tip-top shape. That means monitoring your site's response times and speed, running tests, updating your online catalog and optimizing the mobile shopping experience. After all, one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise this year.

Related: The 6 Musts of a Successful Holiday Marketing Campaign

3. Ready your packaging and shipping process.

Dealing with the onslaught of holiday orders can be overwhelming. Get organized ahead of time and make sure you have plenty of thermal printer label rolls, packaging tape and other shipping materials on hand. Also, stock up on free U.S. Postal Service priority mail boxes early. If you're using a thermal printer, make sure it's set up to print dark, clear, easy-to-read text. If not, you can easily boost the temperature through the control panel.

You might also consider enlisting some seasonal employees to help you get those shipments out the door. If you're expecting your shipping volume to increase substantially, and you don't have a regular pickup scheduled with your USPS, FedEx or UPS driver, check to see if you can arrange a daily pickup.

4. Stay on top of holiday shipping deadlines.

Your customers want to get their gifts to their loved ones by Dec. 25. Make sure you're aware of domestic and international holiday shipping deadlines, and post them on your website where your customers can easily find them. Shoppers can plan ahead and purchase their gifts before the deadline, and you won't have to deal with an unhappy customer whose item didn't arrive in time. It's a win-win for everybody.

5. Be aware of hidden fees.

On Nov. 2, FedEx increased fuel surcharges for ground and express shipments, and UPS increased surcharges for ground, air and international shipments. This is a good time to start thinking about adding the U.S. Postal Service to your shipping mix, which is an affordable option for smaller, lightweight packages that doesn't tack on fuel or residential surcharges.

Check out the infographic below to get the full scoop on holiday shipping deadlines and costs, popular gifts and the best days to buy them.

Related: 'Tis the Season: It's Time to Get Mobile Ready for Christmas

Click to Enlarge

Harry Whitehouse

Co-Founder and CTO, Endicia

Harry Whitehouse is chief technology officer and co-founder of Endicia, a company offering shipping technologies and services to small and large e-commerce businesses across the United States. A former Stanford associate professor with more than 35 years of industry and management experience, Whitehouse has led Endicia since its inception in 1982.

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