The following are some things to keep in mind when setting deadlines which I have broken down into four topics
Be clear, make sure you policies, turn-around times and shipping info are plainly written in multiple locations on you site, it might be a good idea to add them to all of your social media accounts and write a dedicated blog post about the topic.
With more shoppers visiting your site, the more questions you will have. Believe me when I tell you no matter how many times you write something on your page/info section/shop banner, people will still ask you about it. Be prepared to answer more convos and emails than usual. Take some time each day to do this, because it will generate more sales for you!
tip: Tired of typing the same emails over and over again? Type up some responses you find yourself answering a lot and save them to a word file on your desktop. Then when you get the email all you need to do is copy + paste!
First I want to talk about supplies. You are getting more orders this time of year so chances are your suppliers are as well. They may take a few extra days to get your orders out, and you of all people should understand this! Plan ahead and try to keep extra on hand, if this isn't something you can do... build some extra time into your deadline in case you run out and can't get your hands on things as readily.
Now for the most important part of the whole process, how long does it take you to actually make your item? Now pretend you have to make 3-4 times the amount you normally do. Realistically how much can you produce in a day without going insane and still make sure you have time to make that third pot of coffee?
tip: Journal through a normal day... make notes of how much time you spend answering emails, blogging, listing items and making your product. This will help you realistically look at how long and how much you can do in a day.
Of course you want to make sure you have plenty of shipping supplies on hand! Although if you run out Uline always has stock and they ship fast (we live close enough to one to go pick our orders up!)
This is the worst part. This is what the USPS has to day on the matter of shipping deadlines...
USPS 2014 Christmas Shipping Deadlines:To ensure that holiday mail and packages are delivered in time for Christmas, the Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines:
- Dec. 2 – First-Class Mail International
- Dec. 2 – Priority Mail International
- Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International
- Dec. 15 – Standard Post
- Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
- Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail
- Dec. 20 – Priority Mail
- Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express*
While this list is full of hopes and dreams, do not be fooled by it. The aren't guaranteeing your packages will get there by December 25th if you get them in the mail by this date. Due to the horrible things that happened to us last year, I would give packages 3-5 more days than what this chart says... at least!
tip: Upgrade your customers to Priority when you can, lower risk of getting lost I have found and it comes with Insurance in case of damage, add insurance when you can, more packages are damaged in the month of December than any other month of the year!
ROOM FOR ERROR
You are human, and you are probably dealing with 3 times the amount of orders you normally are. You will mess up. Your packages will get lost. When this happens your customer will not understand (with a few very kind exceptions) and they will still want the item to their house by December 25th.
Things may be frustrating and out of your control, the best advice I can give is to plan ahead for these things, and be kind to the customer even when they are rude. Kindness usually goes along way in calming arguments.
I always add buffer days into my deadlines. This gives us time to re-ship and still get the orders out in time. What about you? Any tips I missed?