￼Shipping Holiday Chocolate – What to Expect This Year
You want to ship some holiday chocolate this year – the assortments you’ve chosen carefully for Aunt Jo and Brother Henry – and then you ask the big questions: what should I expect from the shipping carriers; how long will my package take to get there?
The last few years have been hard to figure in terms of what we can expect from the big shipping carriers. Sometimes it feels like there’s no right answer, but since we’re in the business of shipping holiday chocolate, we thought we’d give you our best guesses.
The Big Three: The US Postal System, FedEx, and UPS
US Postal System
We’ve always used the US Postal System (USPS) to ship 95% of our chocolate packages. We have found USPS to be the most cost effective with a good track record of delivering within a reasonable time frame.
I’d rate them on that axis where price and trust intersect with an A-.
That’s a pretty top-notch grade, and we’re happy with that. But if your package is the one that gets delayed or detoured or never arrives, well then, who cares about that high grade? Your package is the only one that matters, and that matters to us, too.
Thankfully, we now have some history that helps us understand the times and places where USPS can get bogged down. For example, if we’re sending a large order that’s over five pounds to southeastern Florida, then we’ll probably be better served to ship the box via FedEx. It costs more (sometimes much more) for sure, but the package arrives within a few days and doesn’t sit in the Florida sun or get parked in an overheated warehouse. We work this out ahead of time with the customer, so there are no surprises.
FedEx & UPS
For the remaining 5%, we opt for FedEx. The price is higher, as mentioned, but the delivery is guaranteed (something the US Postal System doesn’t offer for Priority shipments). UPS, in our research, has proven to be even less cost efficient with no added benefits.
Paying a premium for delivery with FedEx or UPS that will be equally good from the postal system doesn’t make sense to us, so we’ve stuck with our friends at USPS. Besides, they’re the original. Our roads have been transporting US Postal System carriers since the days of postal service on horseback. We can’t get away from the fact that we’re supporting an institution steeped in US history and one we believe in. And that dovetails nicely with the belief in saving our customers’ money, too, which is of primary importance to us.
Send Early to Arrive Early?
Oh, the conundrum. You want it to arrive just before Christmas, or on the first day of Hanukkah, but if you try to time it perfectly, it could backfire and arrive late. Besides, have you seen the lines at the post office in mid-December?
The mantra has been to ship holiday chocolate (and all holiday items) early, and we wholeheartedly agree. Ideally, the recipient will either know the package is coming and will stash it away till the 25th, or with your blessings, enjoy it with a hot toddy in the days leading up to the holiday.
Backlogs and Bottlenecks
Though we do our best to get all our website orders packaged up and to the post office as quickly as they arrive in our inbox, we can, of course, experience a backlog of a day or two (or three or four) during this most busy season. So, that’s another hardy vote for ordering your chocolate EARLY.
A drum roll, please . . .
According to the post office, for your package to arrive before December 25th, the big date to keep in mind is December 19th for Priority Mail. But, if it’s holiday chocolate you want to send, ordering the chocolate on the 19th, doesn’t mean the package will go out on the 19th.
So . . .
For Christmas, order your chocolate by December 15th at the latest for best results.
For Hanukkah this year, for your package to arrive before December 18th, the last date for shipping is December 12. And that means, for the greatest likelihood of on-time arrival, order your chocolate by December 7th, which, I might add, is just around the corner as I write this post.
From a retailer’s perspective, and one immersed in the chocolate shipping business, I feel optimistic about the upcoming holiday season. A few years ago, we went through a dark period, one that threw us all into doubt about the reliability of the shipping companies. Packages went south when they should have gone north; east when they should have gone west. Now, I feel we’ve experienced a reset.
We know we need to plan ahead.
And we know we need to order early.
We also know we need to give the “system” plenty of time. And with that new normal in mind, I know we can all get our holiday gifts ordered and shipped this year without any hand-wringing or heartache. Ship your holiday chocolate to those you love and hopefully you’ll get some chocolate and some love in return. As chocolatiers and as shippers of holiday cheer, we’re here to help.