The most wonderful time of the year — and the busiest one for most shippers and carriers — is almost upon us. Gift-giving season can be an extremely profitable one, as long as companies satisfy their customers. The shipper-carrier relationship is largely hidden from consumers, but it’s essential that it runs smoothly to keep consumers happy.

Shipping companies know the importance of this season, however, which means some tack on peak season surcharges. Executives must review their carriers’ policies carefully this season to ensure they avoid surprise fees.

Know Your Carrier’s Holiday Surcharges

UPS and FedEx are approaching the holidays differently this year. UPS imposed a per-package peak season surcharge, while FedEx increased rates on its largest packages. UPS’s charges also vary week to week, while FedEx’s are steady throughout the season.

Key points in FedEx’s peak season policy:

  • The season runs from Nov. 20 until Dec. 24.
  • An additional handling surcharge will rise by $3, to $14 per package. This applies to any package whose longest side measures between 48 and 108 inches.
  • The ground unauthorized package charge will rise to $415 per package.
  • The oversize charge will rise to $97.50 per package.

Key points in UPS’s peak season policy:

  • Rates vary by week. For packages shipping within the U.S.’s lower 48 states, no additional peak season surcharges apply between Dec. 3 and Dec. 16.
  • From Nov. 19 until Dec. 2, all UPS Ground packages within the Lower 48 will see a 27-cent peak season surcharge.
  • From Dec. 17 until Dec. 23, UPS Next Day Air will charge an 81-cent fee per package; UPS 2nd Day Air and 3-Day Select will charge a 97-cent fee per package; and UPS Ground will charge a 27-cent fee per package.

Companies who know the data behind their shipping spend will understand exactly how much these fees will cost, and be best suited to avoid them when possible.

Get Ahead of the Holiday Season by Reviewing Your Data

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The platitude holds true across industries, and of course, that includes shipping.

Companies that know their shipping profile — exactly what they ship, how big it is, how much it weighs and where it goes — can easily project how much they’ll owe in holiday surcharges.

Related: Decoding Your Shipment Data: Surprising Information Your Analytics Reveal

They can also estimate their customers’ needs and anticipate how much volume will increase in November and December. This knowledge is essential when communicating with carriers to ensure smooth end-to-end service.

Finally, Reveel offers reporting and analytics software that can give managers real-time, package-level details about their supply chain. Monitoring exactly where products are in their development and transportation is key to delivering them on time — and this knowledge gives managers the power to make changes when necessary.

Communicate with Your Carriers and Customers

Communication between companies and their carriers, as well as their end customers, is critical to holiday success. Companies who can manage customers’ expectations and push carriers to meet them consistently earn higher marks during the holidays.

While UPS, FedEx, and USPS all offer guaranteed next-day, two-day or three-day service, managers should understand how long packages might reasonably take to ship via ground, and avoid promising their customers anything their carriers can’t deliver.

Whether companies ship business-to-business or to doorsteps, it’s essential to communicate to customers when packages will arrive. As more people order online and expect faster service at the same price, they also want to know exactly when to expect their packages. All three major carriers offer online tracking; companies must communicate that to end customers as clearly as possible.

If you don’t yet know your company’s shipping profile or want access to real-time monitoring, Reveel can help. Start getting ready for the holiday rush now.

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