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DHL Express' Essential Christmas Delivery Tips

Business · 4 min read

DHL Express' Essential Christmas Delivery Tips

Christmas is just around the corner. If you’re an e-commerce business owner, it’s likely to be your busiest time of year, so there really is no time too early to start your holiday shipping preparations. At DHL, we know a thing or two about running a smooth operation throughout the holiday season, so we’ve got some tips to help you get ready.  

At DHL Express, the peak holiday season runs from Black Friday (late November) until Christmas, when delivery volumes will be over 40% higher than the average daily volume in our third quarter. And that’s before we even factor in COVID-19 and its unprecedented effect on the e-commerce sector.

Unsurprisingly, global lockdowns meant consumers shopped more online – some for the first time. A recent report1 by Adobe2 revealed total online spending in May 2020 reached USD$82.5 billion, up 77% year-over-year, accelerating e-commerce’s growth by “between 4 and 6 years.” Industry forecasts predict these new online shopping behaviors will stay in the long term, even as stores reopen.  

With online sales increasing, opportunities for your e-commerce business are bigger than ever, particularly in the lead up to the holiday season. Researchfrom Google found that "70% of UK shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons, and a similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store", meaning there is an opportunity for you to convert these 'browsers' at the point they're online.

If you operate globally, you’ll have additional international shipping preparations to consider in order to handle the increased demand. Given the complexities of global shipping, and the additional rules and changing regulations, it’s critical that your logistics team can move as quickly across borders as they can within them.

To ensure your company can survive the peak holiday period, and genuinely deliver on what your customers have ordered – on time, on target, and in one piece – you’ll need to have a clear holiday shipping strategy in place.

The best way to develop an efficient, cost-effective and reliable shipping strategy is to work with an experienced shipping and logistics partner who understands high-volume planning.

As ‘the world’s most international company’, DHL Express has a presence in over 220 countries and territories. This has given us the knowledge and expertise to navigate all the complex global customs regulations so shipments aren’t delayed.

In addition to finding the right shipping partner, retailers should consider the following key shipping issues:

Aim for an effective shipping offer

Holiday shipping offers and return policies must be clear and competitive within their category. In the e-commerce realm, shipping costs can be a decisive factor so be sure to have enticing delivery options. During the holiday season, most online customers expect to receive free shipping with a minimum purchase, and many actively seek out free shipping for returns and exchanges. The fact is, notification of shipping costs during an online transaction is a key reason for shopping cart abandonment. Therefore, even the smallest online sellers must at least consider free shipping in some form; and during the Cyber Monday rush, offering free shipping with no minimum purchase can set your site apart. Finally, be sure to clearly display estimated delivery dates and ordering cut-off dates for Christmas Eve delivery.

Consider free returns and exchanges

When it comes to the returns process, it’s also critical for online retailers to develop a clearly stated and consumer-friendly policy. 49% of online consumers will actively check a brand’s returns policy before committing to buy4, so a 'free returns for the holidays' approach can help you win customers. Furthermore, research shows that offering free online returns encourages a higher average basket spend amongst consumers5, so it’s an investment that will pay off in the end. Just be aware that e-commerce returns policies vary from country to country; for example, a European Union rule requires e-tailers to allow customers 14 days to return unwanted goods.

Remember the basics

  • When’s the last day to ship before Christmas? This date should be engraved in your mind so that your customers receive their orders in time.
  • Consider sustainable and eco-friendly packaging for your products; increasingly, consumers are looking to sellers to act responsibly here.
  • Fill your holiday shipping boxes. Less empty space will help prevent items from shifting and breaking in transit.
  • Add an extra address label inside the package in case the outer one is damaged or stripped off. Even the stickiest labels can come off!
  • Ensure that all seams and flaps are securely taped. For additional reinforcement, apply extra strips of tape to the bottom and top of the box.
  • Don’t unintentionally ship dangerous goods internationally. Always declare the contents. Many common gift items can be classified as dangerous goods for air transport. These include but are not limited to children’s toys that contain batteries; electronics and battery-operated Christmas decorations that have lithium batteries; and cologne, bath sets, nail polish and lighters, and any aerosol cans – all of which may be flammable.
  • Remember that each country has its own standard for what goods are subject to duty. The DHL Trade Automation Service tool (TAS) is free and only requires that you establish a login credential to access a plethora of information related to any international transaction. 
  • A well-orchestrated shipping strategy, incorporating guaranteed Christmas delivery, can boost holiday profits and keep your customers happy – which should give you something to really celebrate in the new year.


Infographic: Christmas spend trends, eBay, June 2020  

1 - Adobe report, Forbes, June 2020

2 - Adobe 

3 - How the pandemic may affect holiday shopping, Google, September 2020

4 - Narvar Consumer Report, June 2017

5 - Klarna report, Ecommerce News, March 2019

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