Holiday online shopping will be a major trend this season. Deloitte predicts holiday online shopping growth of up to 35 percent — which amounts to nearly 200 billion dollars. The projection is influenced by a number of factors.
Social distancing measures put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic have led to an increase in online shopping in 2020. Retailers have refined their online marketplaces to make the shopping experience more streamlined and convenient.
Customers are becoming more comfortable shifting more of their business online. Expanded features to track your package and a large selection of gift ideas make online holiday shopping easier than ever.
That convenience has a downside. Increased demand means that packages could pile up in mailrooms, mailboxes and front doors, which creates security concerns. Customers may need to accept delivery times that are less than the lightning-fast turnaround they've become accustomed to. And the promotional period between Thanksgiving and Christmas will look very different this year.
There are lots of factors in play. These smart strategies will help you do your online holiday shopping as quickly and easily as possible.
Consumers are shopping for everything online, including groceries, pet supplies, household essentials, clothing and shoes, even furniture and exercise equipment.
When you add holiday shopping to the mix, all major shipping companies are anticipating exceptionally high volume between now and January 2021. They've added extra staff to meet the projected demand, but it's smart to shop as early as possible — ideally, before Thanksgiving.
“Cyber 5, the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, is set to break records this year," FedEx states in an article detailing shipping tips for retailers this season. “Customers who place orders after Cyber 5 may risk not receiving their items in time for the holidays."
Businesses are already taking steps to redistribute online holiday shopping promotions to distribute demand more evenly and avoid possible shipping delays. Major retailers are shifting their Black Friday promotions away from one day, in-person shopping or online shopping and offering discounts weeks in advance to encourage early ordering.
Consumers have responded to the call to shop local and help neighborhood shops weather the pandemic. The trend looks likely to continue through the holiday season, not just on Small Business Saturday, which falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
If you order well before Thanksgiving, you'll have your holiday packages in hand while everyone else is still doing their online holiday shopping. You'll also avoid last-minute shipping fees.
The United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx all predict a high volume season. Nobody is implying that the pros will be overwhelmed. But it's realistic to expect that packages ordered in November and December might take a little longer to make it to your apartment. Save yourself the stress and accept that the latest possible date given may be the day your package will arrive.
For example, if a package is projected to arrive in 5-8 business days, assume that it will show up on Day 8. If that's cutting it close, upgrade to faster shipping for added peace of mind.
If you're worried that you won't be home when your order arrives, sign up for text or email alerts so you can track your package. You can also re-route your package and, in some cases, follow the delivery truck in real-time.
Your package doesn't necessarily have to go directly to your front door. And you don't have to rush home to meet it. You can pick it up at a secure location at your convenience.
The United States Postal Service makes it simple to re-route packages through the Informed Delivery service. USPS, FedEx and UPS all also allow consumers to pick up packages at their locations.
The UPS My Choice service enables customers to re-route packages to a UPS Access Point. These secure locations include UPS Stores, as well as banks, shops and gas stations. These locations will hold your package in a safe spot, so you can pick it up at your convenience.
FedEx Delivery Manager also offers secure package pickup nationwide. The service enables customers to route holiday gifts to FedEx Offices, Walgreens and Dollar General locations, grocery store and other locations. They will be held there for up to seven days.
Packages sitting out in the open are vulnerable to the elements. They're also visible to potential thieves and curious neighbors. Minimize risk by tucking them out of sight.
All of the services detailed above allow customers to leave detailed instructions for delivery drivers. Just log your preferences so delivery drivers know that they can leave a package with a neighbor, tuck it into a lockbox on a shared porch, or put it in your garage so it stays out of the way until you can claim it.
If you're re-routing packages to a neighbor, check first to make sure that they'll be home and will accept them for you. You might want to get them a small gift as a thank you. ('Tis the season, after all.)
The main office or mailroom of your building is a logical place to route and store packages. It's easy for delivery people to bring oversized packages or multiple items to one central location. This saves you a trip to the pickup location. Your landlord, office or property manager can keep everything safe and secure until you arrive to claim your holiday shopping.
Current social distancing protocols may limit the hours that staff are on-site. Call your landlord or property manager for updated hours and make sure that this service is still available.
Small packages that are concealed within a mailbox aren't as visible or accessible to thieves. They're also out of the way, so you don't have to worry about fragile items getting bumped or kicked by your neighbors before you arrive.
But if your mailbox is overflowing with flyers, catalogs and other papers, your packages will either be left at your door, crammed into the mailbox or re-routed to an alternate location.
Make it easier for your gifts and packages to fit inside the mailbox (and avoid extra trips to pick-up locations) by cutting down on direct marketing materials. You can opt out of junk mail right now. Consider it a head start on your New Year's resolutions and a simple way to reduce holiday stress.
If you're planning on doing a lot of online holiday shopping (or online shopping in general) a secure lockbox might be a smart purchase. Be sure to check with your landlord or property manager to make sure this is allowed and ask where boxes should be located.
Purchase a box that contains a padlock. Then leave it unlocked, or tuck the lock inside the box. The delivery person will lock the package inside for you to retrieve it.
If you're not celebrating with loved ones in person, you can make life even easier by sending the packages directly to the recipient. You'll avoid an extra trip to mail your gifts, cut down on shipping time (since gifts only have to get to one place, not two) and avoid spending time and money on wrapping paper.
You also don't have to find spots to hide packages in your apartment — or worry about family members or roommates stumbling upon them and accidentally telling the recipient and ruining the surprise.
Many large retailers offer a gifting option that doesn't reveal how much you spent. Friends and family can also return or exchange items with ease. Some include gift wrapping.
Smaller shops can offer these conveniences, as well as even more customized service. Numerous bookstores, art supply shops and boutiques feature personalized shopping services. Many will wrap and ship the item for you and even tuck in a note on your behalf.
More and more retailers are offering curbside pickup as a safe and convenient service for customers. Just do your online holiday shopping as usual, but select curbside pickup instead of shipping. You'll likely save money on shipping and you'll get your packages right away.
Several retailers offer contactless pick-up where they put packages directly in your trunk. That's the safest option, especially if you're not feeling well. It's also a clever way to get those holiday gifts back home without someone else in the car noticing them.
Online holiday shopping is projected to increase this year. But if you shop early, track your package to your door and optimize your shipping and pickup options, holiday shopping can be quick and easy.