Shipping Challenges during the holiday season

holiday shipping

Canada Post ships around 800 thousand parcels during a holiday weekend. Purolator ships around 46 million packages. Holidays are the busiest time for eCommerce businesses.

However, it is not all lilies and roses. From the seller’s perspective, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, it’s complete chaos, especially with shipping. 

What can go wrong with shipping? 

The short answer – everything. The long answer is down below.

Challenge 1 

Increase in surcharges – Even before the holiday season, you as a founder might find it increasingly difficult to have a solid shipping strategy. This is because your shipping strategy would be determined by the speed of your shipper and the rates that were agreed upon. But, more often than not, there would be a substantial increase in surcharges that would force you to rethink things.


Compare the rates from the previous year. Most shipping companies follow a pattern. One can almost always be sure that the national carriers WILL have all kinds of surcharges just before holidays. 

Challenge 2 

No on-time delivery – There is a reason why shipping companies have a timeline for holiday orders. Don’t know what we are talking about? Check the holiday deadline blog post. Not delivering orders on time causes trust issues with customers and is a nightmare for founders. 


Let your customers know in advance what the timelines will be like. Honesty really is the best policy.

Challenge 3

Lack of Inventory (space and otherwise) – Inventory issues emerge as a result of weak planning. If you plan at a later stage that you need 1000 more of your famous coffee machines, you would have no space to store them, unless you own a warehouse. In Toronto, warehouses usually get filled up pretty quickly. 


Pre-planning and having a warehouse space ready for last-minute orders is one way to go. 

Challenge 4

Last-minute shipping – Now that you are at the shipping stage, there would be last-minute orders. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that adrenaline rush that comes with last-minute orders? But truthfully, nothing is scarier than prepping for orders and not knowing how would you ship them fast or worse, at all.


Prepare your warehouse in advance. Have a system. Manik from Icy Vinatge shares how they manage things at Icy during the infamous holiday season –

Challenge 5

No tracking – Not having a proper tracking system can paralyse your operations. People like knowing where their orders are at all times. A tracking link that works well is crucial to your holidays’ success and in overcoming shipping challenges. 


Invest in real-time tracking as soon as you can. A solution like ShippingChimp would not only give you tracking as a feature but would also give features like delivery notifications and a branded tracking page. 

Challenge 6

Customer support – The holiday season is when you need all hands on deck. No matter how much you plan, there will still be WIZMO calls. However, not everyone can be a skilled customer support rep when time demands. 


Automate things for your customer. With features like Delivery Notifications, let your customers know where the order is stuck before them having to search for it.

Challenge 7

Returns – Probably the biggest challenge of them all. Return rates are high just after the holiday season and if not tackled probably can eat your profits. 


Here is how Hush Blankets deal with returns.

Here is how Graydon Skincare deals with returns. 

Ending Thoughts

eCommerce founders have a love-hate relationship with holidays. Taking care of these shipping challenges solves half the problems. If you are finding yourself on the less prepared side of things, let the experts at ShippingChimp help you decide your shipping strategy. 

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