How to Prepare for Potential Supply Chain Woes this Holiday Season

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The holiday season is nearly here. For most retailers and eCommerce brands, that means putting the finishing touches on holiday email campaigns.

You may think you’re all set. After all, you’ve been proactive all summer. You’ve been diligently making updates to old campaigns, creating gift guides, paying attention to your loyalty and welcome emails to tie them into the season. 

What’s left?


Many retailers across industries are already warning customers to start their shopping early because of potential delays. You’ve likely already been experiencing issues getting inventory and stock on time for much of the year. 

Unfortunately, it’s going to continue to roll into the holiday season.

Supply chain issues hamper shipping

With the pandemic still impacting much of the world, the supply chain is feeling the impact too. For example, this year has seen cargo ship traffic at record highs in Southern California’s ports. Coupled with delays, supply and worker shortages, and of course, the continuing pandemic translates to a significant supply chain problem.

Another issue that’s hampering the supply chain is cost. The cost of cargo boxes has skyrocketed. In 2019, the cost to transport a 40-foot shipping container was approximately $2,000. Now, it’s running five times as much and even more for on-time delivery of high-end luxury goods. Those costs may end up trickling down to the consumers, with higher prices on goods or more expensive shipping. 

For brands, that can mean a lot of shipping headaches this holiday season. Now, add the Apple iOS 15 privacy update to the mix, and you’ve got some new challenges to worry about during an already busy time of year.

Here’s what you can do to prepare your emails for holiday shipping.

Know your shipping data

Every year, the major shipping carriers release their shipping information and surcharges for the coming holiday season. This year, like last holiday season, there are surcharges and potential service delays expected among UPS, FedEx, and USPS, among others.

While this information might not be a huge change to how you’ve been operating for the last year and a half, the holiday surge can play a factor in your operations. Know your shipping rates and plans now, so you can factor those into any email communications. 

Start early

Some retailers and eCommerce brands are starting their campaigns a week or two early this season to help factor in shipping time and costs. That may be something you’ll want to consider, too, depending on your inventory and supplies. Plus, people are increasingly starting their holiday shopping earlier too.

holiday shopping trends

Starting your holiday campaign early can also benefit you if you plan to offer free shipping codes in loyalty member emails, for example. If you’re sending these out, make sure you’re crystal clear about timing and cutoff dates in your emails. 

Include extra communication

One of your customers’ biggest concerns this season is will my order get here on time. Unfortunately, with the supply chain issues, it’s that much harder to give a confident answer. But, in situations like this, over-communication is never a bad thing. 


You may want to include an email in your series that speaks explicitly to potential shipping issues and what customers need to know. For example, use a Smart Banner to alert customers to the exact dates and times they must order by for guaranteed delivery so they’ll have that information in every email.

Beef up your tracking

To help save your customer service team from fielding extra where is my order (WISMO) calls, add updated package tracking to your toolbox. Giving your customers this information in every email can help slow down these calls. Plus, it’s another way to offer personalized content right to their inbox.

Package Tracking Vertical

Zembula can help. With our Smart Banners and Smart Blocks, and a few snippets of code, you can add shipping tracking data to your emails. Then, when your customer goes to their inbox, they’ll have the latest updates right at their fingertips.

Get ready

The holiday season is barreling towards us. With some new challenges this year, preparation is key. But, you can still deliver a great customer experience even if package delays are a concern.

Get in touch if you want to learn more about Zembula’s package tracking emails and slow down those WISMO calls. We’d love to help.

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