This year, Deloitte predicts holiday retail sales could top $1.10 trillion, and U.S. retail sales alone are anticipated to increase by more than four percent. We are constantly bombarded with order by deadlines from retailers that allow us to receive gifts in time for Christmas. And yet, there is a completely different category of goods being bought and sold all over the world during this time as well, including specialized and luxury items like art, oversized or high-value objects, furniture, and antiques. Unlike conveyable goods (small, lightweight items and shipments handled through traditional conveyance systems), these items cannot be sent via a common carrier like UPS or Fedex.
In a world where consumers expect options for timely, trackable receipt of goods (thanks, Amazon!), many don’t realize that’s not always a possibility.
It’s not until until you get to checkout and are told you must contact the seller directly to organize shipping for additional costs, as opposed to being given a clear shipping cost and understanding the total price of the item. This is because there are many factors that contribute to the final shipping cost for these items, including pick-up and delivery location, tight deadlines, freight rates, size and weight of the item, etc., and a solution does not exist today that standardizes these rates across the industry (don’t worry - we are working on it!).
For businesses and consumers who need help shipping and selling these types of items, here are a few tips that will help you plan appropriately, ensure client satisfaction, and minimize last minute stressors:
Shipping items requiring specialized handling have longer delivery lead times in general; aside from renting an exclusive truck (at an exclusive price point), there usually isn’t an option for next day delivery. Turnaround time from pickup to delivery could take a week or more. Therefore, if you are looking to purchase something that you’d like received before end of year, you should be sure to order a few weeks in advance.
Be aware of price fluctuations and limited supply availability
In our global economy, it is increasingly possible that you are purchasing something that is shipping from another country, likely requiring the need for air freight transportation. An increase in shipments around the world during the holidays means that air freight capacity often gets booked up earlier than at other times of the year, and lower supply could mean your items take much longer to ship. In addition, lower supply also leads higher pricing; air freight rates often peak around the holidays. Thus, if you are purchasing an item coming from another country, be sure to give yourself plenty of lead time ahead of your desired delivery date and be prepared to pay higher prices during this time of year.
Always consider ancillary service requirements.
When you receive a box from UPS or FedEx, a courier usually drops a cardboard box on your doorstep and goes on with their deliveries. From there, you likely unpack the box yourself and throw the box in your recycling bin. However, precious goods or items requiring special handling generally require special packing or crating, and may also require the handler to unpack and dispose of the packaging. Packing/crating and debris disposal are two additional requirements that can increase overall shipping costs. If you are moving or purchasing a work of art, or a large piece of furniture or design object, you should also consider adding installation as an additional delivery service, to ensure the item is hung or displayed properly. Again, these services come at additional costs, and should be kept in mind when considering the overall shipping and handling price of a purchase.