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Aug 31, 2009 | 4 minute read

Tips for Showing Holiday Shipping Deadlines

written by Linda Bustos

Though you may only have a few early-bird holiday shoppers this time of year, before you know it you'll need to calm the "will it get there on time?" fears of last-minute shoppers. Great online stores address this anxiety by making holiday shipping cutoff dates easy to find on home pages and product pages. Let's take a look at some examples and tips:

Bed Bath and Beyond

Tagline: "Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates"

Bed Bath and Beyond dedicates some central home page real estate to its holiday shipping information:

Bed Bath and Beyond Screenshot

And it's not limited to just Christmas, either:

Bed Bath and Beyond Shipping Schedule

Tagline: "Holiday Info"

The tagline is not as clear as it could be - what exactly does holiday info mean? Behind the link lies the shipping cut off dates: Cutoff's FAQ-style page has information for US and European customers, but looks like Canadians are out of luck.

American Eagle Outfitters

Tagline: "Gifts on Time / It's Not Too Late For 12.24 Delivery"

Great placement in top right of the home page where it will be noticed first: Cutoff

And in case you missed it up top, it's showcased on the left side of the homepage:

Sidebar Cutoff Button


Pop-up window: Cutoff Schedule


Tagline: "It's Never Too Early To Shop And Get Free Super Saver Shipping"

Amazon Cutoff Link

Here's what you find behind the link:

Amazon Cutoff Table

Amazon clarifies that the deadlines only apply to items bought from, not from the seller marketplace:

These deadlines apply only to items shipped from and sold by and refer to delivery on or before December 24, 2007. For products fulfilled by other sellers, that seller's shipping deadlines apply. Check under "Availability" on individual products' pages to determine the seller. For complete holiday shipping information and information on restrictions, click here.

My hunch is most people will read the pretty table and ignore the text below. Just a hunch.

Best Buy

Tagline: "New! Guaranteed Christmas Delivery"

I like Best Buy's "Guarantee" approach. It communicates additional value:

Best Buy Banner

Guarantee means that they will credit your shipping charges and offer you a $10 or $20 digital coupon for your trouble if your order arrives late:

Best Buy Guarantee

It's nice that Best Buy will refund shipping on late orders, but it's also competing with retailers that offer free holiday shipping. But, Best Buy adds to the bottom of its home page a box showing its extended returns policy, complete with a little calendar icon showing January 31 (so you don't even need to click through to get the gist). Reducing consumer risk and easing online shopping anxieties may influence shoppers to stay on the site for all their shopping rather than checking out competitors' offerings.

Best Buy Returns Link


Tagline: "Holiday Delivery - Order by December 15 for Standard Shipping"

I like how Domestications shows the date right up front, so you don't even need to click through for details:

Domestications Cutoff

What's novel is that Domestications has an interactive map (I'm dubbing this "Domestications Destinations") where you can click on any state and see specific cutoff dates:

Domestications Map

Hickory Farms

Tagline: "Holiday Delivery and Shipping Options"

Hickory Farms uses a text link:

Hickory Farms Home Page

The chart shows cut off dates for the different holidays and shipping methods, and includes a reminder that frozen foods may need a few days extra to thaw:

Hickory Farms Cutoff Chart

Hickory Farms also takes the opportunity to remind customers that electronic gift cards always make it on time (good idea):

Hickory Farm Gift Card Reminder


Tagline: "Shipping Details and Deadlines"

Nordstrom's shipping details page lists various product categories' shipping deadlines.

Shipping deadlines are also listed on product pages:

Nordstrom Product Page

Saks Fifth Avenue

Tagline: "Free Rush Shipping on Every Order"

Saks one-ups your run-of-the-mill Free Shipping offer by adding "Rush." Great value messaging.

Rush Shipping

Sharper Image

Tagline: "Holiday Shipping"

The Sharper Image includes a link on the home page, further down in the footer but makes it stand out in red text. The footer is a common place for shipping information anyway, so it's likely customers will be able to find it easily from any page:

Sharper Image Holiday Shipping


Headline: "Order By 1 PM PST December 22, 2007 For Guaranteed Delivery Before Christmas"

The most detailed of the bunch, this deadline-headline eliminates any need to click through to a detail page, stating not once, but twice, the cutoff date:

Zappos Cutoff

But did they really have to put 2007 in there?

Shipping Cutoff Tips:

1. Use clear wording like "Shipping Deadlines," "Shipping Cutoff" or "Order By December ___" rather than just "Shipping Details" or "Shipping Info."

2. Make sure the information is easy to find on the home page and product pages.

3. Include where you ship on your detail page. If different states or countries have different cutoff dates, make this clear.

4. Clearly state any restrictions.

5. If different products have different shipping times, make sure to make that clear.

6. Include all shipping options: standard, expedited and express.

7. Remember that Christmas is not the only holiday of the season.


1. Offer a guarantee on your schedule. If the order arrives late, issue an e-coupon and pay for shipping.

2. Show holiday return policies on home page.

3. Remind last-minute shoppers about electronic gift card options.