On the heels of a $3 Billion net loss last quarter, the US Postal Service announced its plans to slow down over one-third of First Class Mail shipments by 1 – 2 days. The new delays will start October 1st, 2021, unfortunately just in time for a busy peak holiday season.
These delays will affect stamp-based mail like letters, postcards and periodicals, but will also impact small packages.
From a cost perspective, First Class Mail is often ideal for e-commerce parcels weighing under 1 pound (about 450 grams). So, this slowdown affects many e-commerce sellers shipping lightweight products.
The major concern here is for e-commerce sellers who depend on reliable transit times to reach customers in time for holiday deadlines. In 2021, Christmas (the 25th) falls on a Saturday. This means the final day for Christmas delivery is Friday the 24th. As a result of the Postal Service’s planned slowdown, First Class Mail shippers will lose a day of Christmas selling to many destinations across the US during the week beginning Monday the 20th.
So, what can be done? Here are a few steps you can take now, in anticipation of a busy holiday e-commerce selling season.
- Sell more, earlier. This may sound like wishful thinking, but consider pulling your marketing dollars forward a few days earlier during the holiday season. Last year, we saw many brands spending big online marketing dollars 1 – 2 full weeks before Thanksgiving. In many instances, it worked.
- Don’t leave deliveries to chance. Be prepared to offer expedited shipping methods to your customers the week of December 20th. UPS / FedEx 2-day or USPS Priority Mail are great options. If considering options from FedEx or UPS, make sure you have great expedited rates in place. If your rates are not great, get in touch with your FedEx / UPS account manager (or via your 3PL provider) sooner than later.
- During the last half of the week of December 20th, consider offering customers the ability to download & print a nicely stylized letter stating “It will be here soon” to stick under the Christmas tree for their recipients. This is not ideal, but it beats the alternative of a late gift falling completely flat and perhaps being returned.
- This is last minute at this point, but consider staging inventory in other warehouse locations in the US. For example, with locations in both New York and California, Rush Order’s fulfillment centers can easily cut out an extra couple days of transit, buying you a little extra time and capturing that last minute holiday demand.
For more specifics on exactly how and where the First Class Mail delays will impact your customers, check out this zip code map tool.