When it comes to developing a shipping strategy, it’s crucial to understand and account for holidays, warehouse closures, and other dates that will interrupt processes. Here’s how blackout dates come into play, and why it’s necessary to factor them into your delivery schedule.

Delivery blackout dates are specific days carriers can’t deliver orders to customers. This may be due to a holiday, carrier outage, or warehouse closure.

Accounting for these dates is vital to ensure that you’re providing accurate delivery information at checkout. Because delivery blackout dates affect the entire fulfillment process, you need to clearly identify dates where delivery isn’t available.

Why Do Delivery Blackout Dates Matter?

The simple answer? Because delivery dates matter. And because your customers expect accuracy and total transparency from you at checkout.

In a recent ShipperHQ survey, we found that 82% of online shoppers prefer to see a delivery date (e.g.: “Arrives December 22”) rather than a delivery timeframe (e.g.: “Arrives December 21-23”) once they are ready to buy. A further 44% say they’d even pay more to see this information. 

It’s obvious why customers strongly prefer to see specific delivery dates at checkout, but getting them right is vital. To do so, you’ll need to define your shipping calendar and create a blackout date schedule. The calendar needs to account for everything that affects your delivery, while your schedule needs to outline all the dates throughout the year where delivery is unavailable.

Factors to consider here include:

  • Cutoff Times – the specific time you stop dispatching orders to customers.
  • Lead Days – the number of days required to prepare an order for shipment.
  • Blackout Production Days – the specific days when a warehouse or dropship vendor doesn’t process orders.
  • Dispatch Blackout Days – the specific days a warehouse or dropship vendor does not ship orders out.
  • Time-in-Transit – the amount to time spent moving goods from one point to another.

When Else Should I Use Them?

To create an accurate shipping calendar, think of the dates you absolutely know you don’t have the staff available to pick and pack orders. This can be public holidays, weekends, or specific days of the week like Mondays. 

You also might need to set up blackout dates for delays on your end, such as if the warehouse will be closed or production will be stopped. Then, if necessary, get more granular and consider any blackout delivery times for non-business hours that need to be baked into your schedule. After all, this information has a major impact on lead times and production times.

On the carrier side, you’ll need to work closely with your logistics providers to determine their schedules. Especially around holidays, be sure to understand the dates your carriers won’t be delivering, and build your shipping calendar around them. 

Most carriers will publish their cutoff dates well in advance of the season. A retailer who uses FedEx, for example, will need to add in its specific cutoff dates, including December 9th for SmartPost, 15th for Ground services, and 23rd for Overnight services. 

How Do I Set Up Delivery Blackout Dates In ShipperHQ? 

You can create a calendar that automatically determines delivery blackout dates using ShipperHQ in just a few steps. Ultimately, these dates will be considering other factors built into your shipping logic before delivery dates appear at checkout. 

  1. First, ensure that you’ve enabled the calendar-based features of ShipperHQ, including Delivery Date & Time and Multi-Origin Shipping.
  2. Next, navigate to “Date and Time” in the ShipperHQ dashboard. Here, you’ll find options to add cutoff and lead times, as well as add blackout dispatch days or blackout production days.
  3. To identify dates a certain carrier won’t deliver, use the Shipping Methods sections. Then edit lead times for the given carrier(s).

Find an in-depth guide to setting up cutoff dates, lead times, and blackout dates for delivery here. 

Is your shipping rate management solution flexible enough to factor in different types of blackout dates? Does it use dynamic logic to create delivery blackout dates based on other shipping factors? If not, you need a platform that can be tailored to your business, products, and calendar. Do it all, plus much more, with ShipperHQ!

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