Black Friday 2017 set holiday sales records, but it was only the beginning.  According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent more than $5 billion online in the 24 hours after Thanksgiving day, bringing an already explosive e-commerce marketplace to new levels. With weeks left before Christmas, it’s a sure bet that digital sales will continue to surge, and with them the demand for fast and efficient shipping.

What does the busier-than-ever online shopping and shipping season mean for your business? First and foremost, that you need to be able to fulfill your orders efficiently and keep your customers happy, even when demand is at its highest.  To succeed under pressure, you need a logistics plan that keeps your supply chain running smoothly, and your plan should start with a shipping partner who understands and is equipped to handle the requirements of peak season.

Here are some keys ways to step up your holiday shipping process:

Holiday Graphics

Understand How Your Shipping Partner Prepares for the Holiday Rush

All of your marketing efforts, employee training and inventory planning will meet a troubled end if you can’t deliver your products on time and in excellent condition. Examine how your shipping partner plans and executes for peak season, and what their expertise is in delivering to the farthest reaches of the globe. What technology do they employ to streamline the delivery process? How are their employees – and their fleet – equipped to manage the rush?

At DHL, we are adding couriers and more weekend deliveries, along with more staff at our facilities to manage the volume increases and additional intercontinental aircraft on the major trade lanes. To help consumers receive their shipments at the time and place of their choosing, we offer On Demand Delivery, where receivers can choose from six convenient delivery options via a dedicated web site.

Packing for Peak

Parcels can travel many thousands of miles through a sophisticated global network to reach their destinations.  Although delivery companies do everything they can to ensure packages are always delivered on time and in great condition, packing parcels properly can help ensure your shipments arrive safely and intact. Always use high-quality corrugated cardboard boxes for parcels. For fragile or heavy items, double-wall or tri-wall constructions are recommended. Avoid reusing old boxes, as they may have lost some of their rigidity. See our Packing Guide for more tips on proper packaging.

Know How Peak Shipping Season Works

For 2017, DHL anticipates that peak season pickup and delivery volumes will be 26 percent higher than in 2016.  While an expert shipping partner can handle peak volumes easily, you might want to schedule your pickups with peak dates in mind.  DHL predicts that December 11 will be our peak pickup day in the U.S., while our peak delivery day will be December 18.


There are various regulatory requirements that customers should be mindful of when sending gift packages, which are free from duty and taxes.  U.S. Customs & Border Protection defines a gift as being from a person in a foreign country to a person in the United States, and having a fair-market retail value received by one person on one day not exceeding $800. Packages containing alcohol, including perfumes containing alcohol, and tobacco products cannot be imported as gifts. In addition, packages containing meat, poultry and egg products are prohibited by DHL.

Gifts sent from or to places of employment must identify the individual sending or receiving the gift.  Separate gifts consolidated in packages must be clearly marked on the outside to indicate that the package contains a gift(s), and packages should also be marked “unsolicited gift,” with the donor’s name, nature of gift, and the package’s fair-market retail value clearly written on the outside wrapper.

Be Specific About Your International Shipping

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living beyond our borders, your biggest area of growth this holiday season may be in international markets. But to keep your global customers happy, you need to ensure that the shipping process is clear and streamlined.  When shipping outside of the U.S., it is critical to understand the rules and requirements so that your goods are not delayed. For guidance, check out the DHL Trade Automation Service, which provides access to a wealth of information surrounding international transactions.  Also, consider including detailed information on your website for international customers, explaining possible duties and taxes that will be charged at the time of import.

What is your business doing to prepare for peak shipping season? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.