No one likes to be surprised — especially not when it comes to a long-awaited package on their doorstep. Accurate shipping and delivery dates mean everything when it comes to building brand loyalty and ensuring a streamlined post-purchase experience that will keep customers smiling all the way back to your online store.

Frustration with options can actually block conversions, with 45% of customers saying that they will abandon their shopping carts due to unsatisfactory delivery options. It’s important for eCommerce businesses to understand the different shipping dates that they should track and deliver on.

Calculating and communicating these shipping date meanings to customers can help eCommerce retailers increase their conversion rates, ease customers' delivery frustrations, avoid miscommunications and streamline the order fulfillment processes.

In this article, we’ll help you figure out the importance of shipping dates for eCommerce businesses, give you a rundown of important shipping dates to track and help you understand how to calculate shipping and delivery dates. Plus, we’ll give you insight as to how Easyship can help you navigate through the different shipping dates.

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Shipping Dates on Black Board
Photo by Roman Bozhko / Unsplash

The Importance of Shipping Dates for eCommerce Businesses

When shoppers arrive at the shipping page during the checkout flow, they expect to see two things: shipping cost and shipping dates. Here is why tracking and showing shipping in your eCommerce store is essential to help demystify shipping nitty gritties.

  • Increased conversions: Shipping and delivery dates gives your buyers assurance on when they should expect their items to arrive, leading to higher conversions at checkout.
  • Build trust: If you track and maintain accurate shipping and delivery dates, your customers will trust you, strengthening the customer-merchant relationship through increased brand loyalty.
  • Streamlined fulfillment processes: Tracking your shipping and delivery dates will help establish what is (or is not!) working during the order fulfillment and delivery process. By tracking that, you can put measures in place to streamline the whole process.
  • Planning ahead: Keeping abreast with important holiday shipping dates helps eCommerce retailers to plan ahead and advise their customers accordingly on order dates that will ensure they receive packages without delays.
  • Driving customer satisfaction: The delivery date time estimate is shared to help with customer satisfaction during the post-purchase period.  Satisfied buyers means everything to an eCommerce retailer because they’ll spread word-of-mouth recommendations about the business, leading to more sales.

7 Shipping Dates to Track

Shipping Dates Calendar

A clear delineation between shipping vs delivery has a significant meaning in the world of eCommerce. When it comes to the meaning of a shipping date, it come down to interrogating the internal fulfillment process, carrier performance, and driving a satisfying post-purchase experience.  To that end, here is a rundown of seven shipping dates that every eCommerce business should track.

  1. Order Date

This is the actual date on which a customer purchases a product.  Let's say a buyer orders a pair of shoes on Friday at 10 PM, that moment in time becomes the order date.

There’s usually a difference between the order date and the ship date, meaning that there’s no guarantee that your order will ship on the same day you place in an order. This is  because of shipping cutoffs, fulfillment lags or when order date coincides with weekends for eCommerce stores that only operate during business days.

Order date is one of the important shipping dates to track because it helps you know how many orders your store is receiving per day to see whether your marketing efforts are paying off.

Related: 2020 Holiday Shipping Deadlines in the US

2. Ship Date

A shipping date simply means a customer's order or package has left the retailer's store or warehouse, and is handed over to the carrier for delivery.

If an order is placed on Friday at 10 pm and leaves the retailer’s warehouse on Monday at 10 AM, then the ship date is Monday at 10 AM. Let us say that a retailer offers two-day shipping. This means that the customer will receive their package within two days after it has left the seller's store.

Similarly, ship dates can even be longer when order dates coincide with weekends. For example, an order placed on Friday after the cutoff hours may not ship until Monday.

The ship date stands out as an essential shipping date because it helps you figure out how long you are taking to get orders out on transit so that you can improve your processes accordingly to streamline the pick, pack, and ship process.

3. Estimated Shipping Date

As the name suggests, the estimated shipping date is an educated guess as to whether or not a package is expected to leave a retailer's store and be delivered to the customer. Since the date is just an estimation, it is not always perfect, and the order may ship out earlier or later.

Several factors lead to these variations. They include:

  • Order fulfillment cutoffs: Placing an order after the cutoff hours means that the order will not be processed until the next day. This can add a day to the overall delivery timeline. The difference in placing an order at 8 AM and 8 PM is a good example of this.
  • Backorders: This happens if an item goes out of stock before a customer's order can be fulfilled. In such situations, the customer is given an estimated shipping date when their order is expected to ship out.

This is an important shipping date that every retailer should track because it helps them gain insight on how their pick, pack, and ship process is working. Huge discrepancies between the actual shipping date and the estimated shipping date may point to some internal fulfillment issues that need to be addressed.

4. Estimated Delivery Date

So, what does estimated delivery mean? This is an informed guess on when a customer can expect to receive their package and is usually calculated after the package has been handed over to the carrier for delivery.

Due to several factors — like shipping delays caused by bad weather, traffic jams, and vehicle breakdowns — this date can’t be guaranteed. Most of the time, it is given as a window of days that takes into consideration these unforeseen situations.

Since the day is just an estimate and cannot be guaranteed, it should be backed with eCommerce order tracking to help mitigate customer's delivery anxieties.

What makes this an important shipping date to track is that it gives buyers a glimpse of when their order is expected to arrive so that they can prepare accordingly to pick it up.

5. Delivery Date

This is the actual date when the package arrives at the doorstep or pick up station. Delivery dates may not always match the estimated delivery dates due to shipping delays caused by factors such as severe weather conditions, customs clearance delays or even traffic jams, among other factors. There may also be  exceptions due to failed delivery attempts, wrong delivery address, and damaged or missing labels.

It is among the essential shipping dates to track because it helps eCommerce merchants gain insight into whether they are meeting their buyer's delivery expectations and to see how their carriers are performing.

5. Holiday Shipping Dates

Federal holidays are other important shipping dates that every eCommerce retailer should be aware of. Just as the name goes, these are public holidays when most courier companies take off from their daily shipping routine and shut down their offices.

Encouraging buyers to place their holiday orders earlier is the best way to ensure that you don't inconvenience them during the holidays, a time of year often associated with delays due to heightened orders. New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day are some of the Holidays every eCommerce merchant should be aware of.

6. Return Date

The return date is the date when an item is sent back to the seller due to customer dissatisfaction. This is a common date in eCommerce due to buyers receiving the wrong items, a wrong size that doesn't fit, or overall customer dissatisfaction due to items being sold in a different condition than presented online.

There is usually a delivery window within which a customer can make an eCommerce return, and a return cutoff, which is the last day a customer has to return the item to the seller. After the return window has lapsed, items cannot be sent back to the seller.

The return date is an important shipping date to track because it helps you figure out how often items are being sent back to your store. From such metrics, you can figure out what is ailing your products and put measures in place to drive customer satisfaction and reduce eCommerce returns in your store.

How are Shipping & Delivery Dates Calculated?

Shipping Dates Calculation Easyship

Now that you know the different shipping dates that you should have your eyes on in your eCommerce store, you should know how these dates are calculated so that you can accurately show estimated shipping dates & delivery dates when a customer placed an order.

To calculate estimated shipping dates, take the order date, and add the time it takes to pick, pack, and get orders out so that they can be added to the carrier for delivery to the customers. If that math is too much for you (we don’t judge!) simplify the process through Easyship’s shipping rate calculator tool.

To calculate delivery estimates, take the estimated shipping date, and add the transit time. The transit time is based on the time it takes a package to travel from your eStore to your buyer's address, while the speed of delivery is determined by the shipping method the buyer chooses at checkout.

When calculating shipping & delivery dates, take cutoff hours and weekends into considerations so that you can provide buyers with the most accurate estimates. If your store or carriers don't operate during weekends, it means that your estimates should be based on weekdays only, but if you operate 24/7, then you can offer weekend delivery as an option during checkout.

Also, don't forget to take holiday shipping dates into consideration. The best way to calculate holiday shipping and delivery dates is to provide your buyer with an "order within" countdown during which they can place an order so that they can receive their packages within the estimated dates.

How Easyship Can Help You Navigate Through the Different Shipping Dates

Shipping and delivery dates have significant meanings when it comes to driving customer satisfaction and encouraging repeat purchases from happy customers. But they can also prove hard to meet when you decide to do it all by yourself.

One way to lighten the heavy lifting and offer your customers more delivery options is to entrust your shipping and delivery dates to a top 3PL company, like Easyship. Easyship helps you spend less time handling shipping, provides access up to 91% discounted shipping rates and expands your shipping options with a network of over 250+ shipping carriers.

With our rates at checkout feature, you can display accurate shipping quotes and delivery timelines so that your buyers can know exactly when delivery is expected. We also partner with a network of warehouses with fulfillment centers across the world to help you speed up your shipping dates and reduce shipping costs with distributed inventory.

Sign up for a free Easyship account today and integrate your shipping dates with your dashboard to get started right away!

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