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2021 Holiday Shopping is not for the Weak.



I'm sure you've heard the warnings about shipping issues and supply shortages as we head into the holiday season. As a retail e-commerce business owner, I have a bit of behind-the-scenes insight into the situation. To put it bluntly- shopping and shipping is going to suck if you aren't prepared. But I'm here to help!  Below are some tips that might you get through the gift giving process with your sanity in tact. 
#1 Shop Small. Shop Local
Clearly, this is something I support year-round, but the shipping situation is an absolute mess, and it's only going to get worse. Shopping local, even online local businesses, gives you the opportunity for local pickups/delivery, and there's less of a chance your package is going to get lost in transit. Shopping small means your package is likely to be lovingly hand delivered to the post office or UPS store instead of getting lost in some vast warehouse. 
#2. Shop Early. Like Now early.
The supply shortages are no joke. Even if your preferred online shop has the gift you need, they might not be able to get a box to ship it in or the packaging materials to keep it safe in transit. The jars for your favorite lotion or clasp for that handmade necklace might be stuck in a cargo ship that can't dock. Personally, if I needed citric acid for shower steamers I'd have no luck getting it unless I could afford to pay through the nose. (Luckily I stocked up earlier this year) There's a good chance smaller makers won't be able to make last-minute products because they will inevitably be missing a vital piece.

#3 Spring for the gift wrapping online
If buying gifts online for out-of-town people, consider opting for gift wrapping and ship it directly to them. Sending the gift to yourself to wrap and then mailing it to the recipient is just asking for it to get lost in shipping purgatory. *Self-promo alert*- The Oakley Soap Co will be rolling out new gift wrap options in the next few days! 
#4 Don't wait for cyber monday deals
They will be few and far between this year. Capitalism is all about supply and demand. The supply is going to be low, but the demand is high. Large retailers know their products will sell no matter what, so they aren't going to bother with offering big discounts.
#4.5 If they do happen, Black Friday-Cybe MOnday deals will be early
Between the shipping issues, the lack of available products and first night of Hanukkah starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving, retailers are encouraging customers to shop early. 

#5 Ship from Home
UPS and USPS offer click-n-ship printing from your computer.  You just need the size of your box and a kitchen or bathroom scale (round up if your scale doesn't show ounces) a printer and tape. Fancy thermal label printers are not required. I also recommend using Pirateship.com for shipping. Technically they are for small business but their services are free and you don't need to show any proof of business to use it.  
#6 Be nice to post office employees, business owners and customer service reps
None of them purposely ensured your package got lost in the mail or made sure the item you wanted sold out before you could purchase. Everyone is simply doing their best during a uniquely challenging Holiday Season.

I hope this helps as you navigate another intense and unique holiday season.  Here's hoping that 2022 will be boring! 

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