It’s that time of year again — for holiday spirit, giving, and, of course, the anxiety that comes with waiting too long to do Christmas shopping online. The good news is that this year, one of the world’s largest online retailers, Amazon, extended the deadline for free shipping before Christmas to Friday, December 19.
The holidays see a huge shipping volume for any retailer, but according to Time, Amazon has been taking steps to make their shipping processes more efficient. Last year, Amazon and the United States Postal Service came to an agreement to deliver on Sundays through the holiday season. Additionally, Amazon has employed about 15,000 drones in its fulfillment centers to increase efficiency.
What’s really surprising about this is that Amazon pays nearly twice what it charges for shipping; in 2013, Amazon spent $6.64 billion on shipping but took in $3.1 billion in shipping payments.
“Obviously, this is not a practice any small business should undertake this Christmas,” shares Chris Franzen, Director of Logistics for Broussard Logistics. “One tip to keep a lid on shipping costs is to consolidate packaging on shipments of multiple items to the same address. This saves on packing material, generates less waste, and should reduce transit costs. If any small business owner uses FedEx or UPS, they also need to keep in mind that both carriers have guarantees associated with their shipping – not just what day it gets there, but what time. Any small business owner needs to know that even if the package makes it on the right day, they may be able to recover some of those shipping costs if it is later than the guaranteed time. It can take a little effort, unless you hire an expert to handle it electronically, but it may very well be worth it.”
Shipping is clearly big business — FedEx made about $44.2 billion and UPS made $55.4 billion last year.
Here are a few more key dates for getting holiday gifts delivered in time, per carrier:
Fed Ex: The last day for ground shipping is December 17, and the last day for Express is December 23.
USPS: The last day for standard shipping was December 15, but cards and mail can still be sent by December 20, and Priority Mail Express runs until December 23.
UPS: Ground shipping will do as long as you send your packages by December 18; for 3 Day Select, December 19; for 2nd Day Air, December 22; and for Next Day Air, December 23.
It seems that the very latest anything can be shipped and still get there in time for Christmas is, of course, December 24 with UPS Critical.