Holiday shipping 101

Oct 25 2021 | Julie Warshaw, PayPal editorial staff

Get tips to help streamline your shipping and fulfillment this holiday season.
As e-commerce continues to boom, small businesses are more empowered than ever to leverage the tools PayPal offers to help streamline operations. Whether you’re fulfilling orders from Black Friday or gearing up for Boxing Day, here are some shipping best practices that can help make your holiday season a success.

Remember key shipping dates
Few things are more disappointing than a package that doesn’t arrive on time. It’s crucial to understand when you need your packages out the door. Take a look at each shipping carrier’s schedule for recommended timelines to have a package arrive by key holiday dates.

Set customer expectations
Whether you’re charging flat rate, exact cost, or offering free shipping, it’s important to be transparent with your customers. Clearly communicate your shipping and handling timeframes, as well as ordering cut-off dates for holiday arrival.

Practice your process
Tape, boxes, labels, packing materials – start stocking up on packaging essentials as soon as possible. If you’re shipping regularly, even from your home, consider setting up a temporary workstation to pick and pack your products.

Another way to prepare for the holiday rush is by timing your fulfillment process, from the moment an order is received to the time the packaged item goes out the door. Look for ways to shave down the seconds, such as pre-packing some of your most popular items during down time.

Share return policies
Holiday shipping doesn’t end with the delivery of your goods. One important message to communicate to your customers is if and how you will handle returns. Learn how PayPal can help support your
shipping and returns process this holiday season.
 
 
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.
 

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Frequently asked questions.

You can customize your PayPal Payments Standard shipping rates based on currency, region, shipping method, and delivery time. Or you can base your shipping rates on fixed amounts or fixed percentages.

Here's how to calculate shipping costs for purchases made on your website:

  1. Go to Account Settings.
  2. Click on Shipping under "Products and Services" on the left menu.
  3. Click on Update next to "Shipping Calculations."
  4. Click Start under "Set Up Domestic Shipping Methods" or "Set Up International Shipping Methods." If you've already set up shipping methods, you can click Add new shipping method or Add another shipping method.
  5. Select the currency and regions, and then click Continue.
  6. Specify your preferences for shipping method, delivery time, and shipping rate, and then click Continue.
  7. Review your selections, and then click Save Shipping Methods.

To enable your shipping calculations, you must click Use settings saved in your PayPal profile within each button you have created. To offer free shipping, select "Use specific amount," and enter 0.00 as the amount. The HTML code in your shopping cart buttons under "Shipping" overrides the shipping methods in your Profile.

If you calculate costs by weight, you must enter the weight of each item within each "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" buttons you create.

If you need more specific shipping calculation options, go to PayPal Developer Portal or contact your developer.

PayPal Shipping is powered by ShipStation, a third-party partner that specializes in fulfillment and shipping services for an ecommerce business. To learn more about how to ship with ShipStation or get customer support, log in to your PayPal account and visit the ShipStation Help Center. You may also email paypalsupport@shipstation.com and get in contact with ShipStation directly.
 
Below are some basics to help you get started:  

What shipping services can I use with ShipStation?

You can create U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and UPS shipping labels for both domestic and international shipments. The available options depend on your package and its destination. You can also customize your packaging option and let ShipStation show you all the available shipping options with their respective price. 
 

How do I create a shipping label in ShipStation?

Here’s how to create a shipping label:
  1. Go to Activity and select All Transactions.
  2. Select your transaction and click Ship. It’ll take you to your Orders page in ShipStation.
  3. Select the order and click Apply Shipping Preset. Choose a flat rate packaging option or your own preset.
  4. Click Buy Label.
  5. Follow the instructions to review your shipping information and purchase the label.
After you buy the label, just print and affix it to your package, and then give the package to the carrier.
 

How do I pay for shipping labels? Are there fees for using ShipStation? 

The first time you ship using ShipStation, you’ll need to connect your PayPal account and set up your billing preferences. You can pay for labels with PayPal balance or other available payment methods in your PayPal account.
 
There are no subscription fees to use ShipStation through your PayPal account. You only pay for the cost of the shipping labels.
 

Will I still receive discounted labels with USPS as I did with PayPal Shipping in the past?

Yes, ShipStation allows PayPal customers to purchase discounted labels with USPS.
 

Can I print multiple labels at once?

Yes. You can create labels in bulk for multiple orders on the ShipStation platform. This feature replaces our previous Multi-Order Shipping tool and helps you simplify the shipping process. You can save a packaging type, weight, dimensions, and options as a preset. These presets allow you to calculate shipping costs quickly for items that you sell regularly.
 
To learn more about how to create labels in bulk and the related questions, log in to your PayPal account to see a step-by-step instruction.
 

Can I void a label that I purchased and receive a refund?

Yes. Depending on the label type, you may cancel it from your Orders page in ShipStation within the required timeframe and get a refund to your PayPal account. Log in to your PayPal account to learn more about how to void a label and the refund policy.
 

How do my customers get notified of their shipment?

When you create a label for a PayPal transaction, your PayPal account will be notified. The transaction will show as shipped and include the shipment details, like the tracking number. Your customer will also receive an email with tracking details.
 

Why did ShipStation create a domestic label for an international order? 

If you've created a label for an international order using your Stamps.com account in ShipStation, you may notice that the resulting label has an unfamiliar domestic Ship To address. This is because of the Stamps.com Global Advantage Program. 
 
All Stamps.com accounts created after August 6, 2019, are automatically enrolled in the Stamps.com Global Advantage Program. If you select First Class Mail International, Priority Mail International, or Priority Mail Express International as your service, you'll automatically receive a Global Advantage Program label, which ships the parcel to a domestic USPS sorting center first. This sorting center will relabel the shipment before sending it to its final, international destination.
 
The full list of the hub locations can be found at this link: https://www.goglobalpost.com/about-us-2/.
 
There are hubs in New York (JFK), Miami (MIA), Chicago (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Atlanta (ATL) and Los Angeles (LAX).
 

Can a secondary user on my account create shipping labels through ShipStation?

Yes, secondary users are able to use ShipStation to create shipping labels. When setting up a secondary user please ensure the user has "Access APIs and developer support site" selected. Once the secondary user has this permission they will be able to access the ShipStation platform when signed into the PayPal account with their information. 
 

How do I contact ShipStation for support?

You can reach ShipStation customer support via online chat. When logged in to your PayPal Shipping powered by ShipStation account, select the chat (colored bubble) icon at the bottom right of the page.
Here's how you can help prevent fraud when shipping an order:

Verify shipping address
Go online and verify the shipping address. Look for red flags such as shipment to a freight forwarder, shipping company, P.O. Box, hotel or a vacant property. Fraudsters often ship orders to addresses that can't be traced back to them.
  • Freight forwarder: Third party shipping service that reships merchandise to another location (typically abroad) for a fee. To see where your package is being sent to, simply enter the shipping address into a search engine. If the search results show the name of shipping company, be more cautious.
  • Shipping companies or P.O. boxes: Fraudsters like the anonymity that shipping companies and P.O. boxes provide. However, there are also a lot of legitimate reasons for using a shipping company or a P.O. box. You just need to be more cautious, since shipping to P.O. boxes and shipping companies are typically more risky than shipping to residential addresses.
  • Money mule: Fraudsters pay people (known as money mules) to have orders shipped to their address. The money mule receives the package, then reships it to the fraudster’s address. Be careful if you have a lot of orders from different customers that are shipped to the same address.
  • Vacant property: To identify vacant properties, enter the shipping address into a search engine. If the property is currently listed as for rent or for sale, it could be vacant.
Ship with online tracking
Use a shipping service that provides online tracking to help confirm the item was delivered. Standard shipping receipts only show that an item was shipped. Online tracking services prove the item was delivered.
  • If the total sale is for $750 or more, obtain signature confirmation to confirm your customer received their order – the nominal expense is well worth it.
  • Use your discretion when shipping internationally using First Class Mail International since this shipping service is not accepted under PayPal's Seller Protection Policy.
Order shipping insurance
Too many things can go wrong in transit. That's why it's important to purchase shipping insurance for items that are fragile or expensive. Shipping insurance serves two purposes:
  • Insures the item in the event it is lost or damaged.
  • Includes tracking and delivery information so the customer can see that the order is en route, and you will know when the package was delivered.
In case of a shipping problem, file an insurance claim with the shipping company.
  • You, your customer or the shipping company can report claims. Contact your shipping company for detailed instructions on how you should proceed with a claim.
  • Be aware of insurance exceptions.
    • Liability for loss or damage may be limited depending on the type of package, the declared value, and/or the shipping company. Talk to the shipping company to ensure proper coverage.
Delay shipping high-risk orders
  • Delay shipment for new orders that are expensive and in demand for 24 to 48 hours, especially when shipping internationally.
  • Use caution when shipping overnight. Fraudsters will often ask for overnight shipping so that they can resell expensive merchandise as quickly as possible.
Use your own shipping service
  • Do not use your customer's shipping company when mailing orders. Packages can be rerouted by the customer to other addresses after shipment, and won't be covered by Seller Protection.
Use care when choosing or acting as a drop shipper
  • Since you're responsible for delivering what the customer orders, it's critical to choose a reputable drop shipper to help avoid losses.
  • Be wary of drop-shipping companies located in high-risk countries.
  • If you're a drop shipper, have a vetting process in place for all suppliers. This should include inventory management and product guarantees (to ensure that items are in stock and you're delivering high-quality merchandise).
Issue returns quickly and let customers know when you are out of stock/inventory
If an item is out of stock, remove the listing or update it to reflect the out-of-stock status. Provide an estimated in-stock date or clearly indicate that customers who choose an out-of-stock product are placing an advance order.

Example: A new customer orders a $10,000 chandelier. Here is what you can do:
  • Search an online map to see who and where the order is being shipped. Is the order being shipped to an expensive home, motel or to a freight forwarder?
  • Use a search engine or social networking site to verify the name and shipping address. Does the name, shipping address and billing address match?
Offers that sound too good to be true, probably are
Most of us are careful if a stranger approaches on the street and offers a deal that's just too good to be true. But we're much less cautious online, putting us at risk.

Advance fee fraud
If you get an offer for free money, there's probably a catch. Typically, fraudsters will ask you to send some smaller amount (for taxes, for legal documents, etc.) before they can send you the millions you’re promised, but which they never intend to send you.

How to avoid this scam: Don't wire money to someone you don't know.

Overpayment scam
  • A customer sends a PayPal payment that is more than the purchase price of the order and then asks you to wire them the difference.
    • They may tell you that they accidentally overpaid you, the extra money is for the shipping costs, they're giving you a bonus for your great service or the money is for the stress they've caused you.
    • They may even ask you to wire the shipping fees to their shipper.
  • This scammer may have paid with a stolen credit card, bank account number, or checking account.
    • Just because a payment has been deposited into your account, doesn't mean the money is yours to keep. If the legitimate account holder reports unauthorized activity, the money can be withdrawn from your account.
    • If that happens, you'll lose the money you wired to the fraudster, the product you shipped, shipping costs, and your payment.
How to avoid this scam:
  • Don't wire money to someone you don't know. A legitimate buyer won't overpay you for an order.
  • If a customer overpays you and asks you to wire them the difference, consider canceling the order—it's very likely to be fraudulent.
  • Don't wire money to the bogus shipping company—it's part of their scam to get your money.

Prize winnings
Messages asking you to pay a small handling fee to collect some fabulous prizes are usually a scam. You send the handling fee and get nothing in return.

How to avoid this scam: Don't send money to someone you don't know. A legitimate prize won’t require you to pay in order to receive it.

High profit – no-risk investments
These types of investments are usually scams and include messages insisting that you “Act Now!” for a great deal.

How to avoid this scam: Discontinue communication with this person/company.

Fake charities
Scammers use disasters to trick kind-hearted people into donating to fake charities. This usually happens when there is a refugee crisis, a terrorist attack, or a natural disaster (like an earthquake, flooding, or famine).

How to avoid this scam:
Thoroughly check the background of any charity to make sure your donation goes to real victims. Use resources to check out charities, like the ones below:

http://www.charitynavigator.org
http://www.bbb.org/us/charity
http://www.charitywatch.org

If a charity does not have a website, be cautious.

To learn more about common scams and how to avoid them, search online for advance fee fraud. You can also read the FBI's material on common types of scams. Most importantly: be as cautious online as you would be in the real world.

Shipping Scams
There are several ways fraudsters incorporate shipping into their schemes. Be sure you’re familiar with the following:
  • My shipping service scam
    • The buyer asks you to use their shipping account because they can get a discount, they have a preferred vendor they’ve worked with for years, or their shipping service is cheaper or more reliable. In another variation of the scam, the buyer may also ask you to wire the shipping fees to their preferred shipper.
    • If you use the buyer's shipping account, they can easily contact the shipping company and reroute the order to another address.
      • The buyer can then open up a complaint asking for a refund because they didn't receive their order.
      • You aren't able to prove that the buyer received their order and you are out your product, the shipping costs, and your money.
    • If they ask you to wire the money to a bogus shipping company, they can steal your money.
      • After you have wired the money you’ll find out that the order was made with a stolen card or bank account. You may be held liable for returning the funds to the legitimate customer whose account was stolen.
How to avoid this scam:
  • Only use your shipping account.
  • Never wire money to someone you don't know – you can't get it back easily.
  • If a customer asks you to use their shipping service, review their order for fraud carefully. They may have used a stolen card or bank account to fund the purchase.
  • Ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
Pre-paid shipping label scam
  • You receive an order from a customer who asks you to use their pre-paid label to cover the shipping charges. (They may tell you that they can get their labels at a discounted price.)
  • By providing the label, the customer controls the destination of the package. They may send it to another country, a PO box, or some other untraceable location.
    • To be covered under PayPal's Seller Protection policy, you are required to ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
    • The shipping label may also have been purchased with a stolen credit card.
How to avoid this scam:
  • If the customer asks you to use their pre-paid label, review their order for fraud carefully. They may have used a stolen card to make the purchase.
  • Do not accept shipping labels from your customers.
  • Ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
Package rerouting scam
The buyer reroutes the package so they can file a complaint that they never received it.
  • A buyer places an order and provides an incorrect or fake shipping address.
  • The shipping company tries to deliver the package but isn't able to.
  • The buyer monitors the online tracking information and notices that the shipper couldn't deliver the package.
  • The buyer contacts your shipping company and asks them to send the package to their correct address. The shipping company delivers the package to the new location.
  • The buyer then files a complaint about not receiving the item.
    • Because the shipment was rerouted, you can't prove the item was delivered to the address on the Transaction Details page.
    • The buyer gets to keep the item and money.
    • Because the package wasn't delivered to the address on the Transaction Details page, you aren't covered by Seller Protection.
    • Unfortunately, you lost the product, shipping fees, and the money.
    • To make it worse, you might also have to pay your shipper an additional rerouting fee.
How to avoid this scam:
  • Contact your shipping company and block buyers from rerouting packages.
  • Validate the buyer's address before shipping.
  • Only ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.

Business/job opportunities
Fraudsters will post fake job opportunities on job-posting sites, dating sites, and via spam email.

Reshipping packages scam
  • One of the more popular work-from-home scams is reshipping electronics, clothing, and other items out of the United States.
  • You receive items (electronics, jewelry, clothing, etc.) in the mail and are asked to ship them out of the country.
    • Packages may be addressed to someone else's name (the stolen credit card victim).
    • Your "employer" provides you with a shipping label (also paid for with a stolen credit card).
    • Your "employer" asks you for personal information, such as your Social Security Number and bank account details, so they can "direct deposit" your check.
    • Generally, you’ll never get paid and have just exposed yourself to fraud.
  • Most merchants will not ship items out of the country.
    • Fraudsters need you to act as an intermediary to help get the goods out of the country. It also helps them avoid getting caught.
    • They use your personal information to steal your identity or take over your account.
How to avoid this scam:
  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Know who you are dealing with and don't reship packages.
  • If you didn't realize you were involved in a scam until the packages started arriving, refuse delivery or return to sender. Report scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or contact your Postmaster.
  • Never give your private personal or financial information to anyone you don't know.

Employment scam
  • Someone contacts you about a great new business opportunity. They need an employee or partner to sell cameras (or some other expensive product) for them.
  • Scammers trick innocent and trustworthy people into sending them money and merchandise.
  • Use the money from the orders to pay their supplier. They’ll contact the supplier in advance to let them know you’ll be sending them money.
  • Update your PayPal account address to their address. They’ll usually give you an address that looks like a regular address but it's a P.O. box.
  • After you pay the supplier, you’ll start receiving complaints from your buyers stating that they didn't receive their merchandise. Instead, they received an empty box (from the scammer).
  • You contact the supplier. They inform you that your partner said you would be sending money for gold bullion, so they shipped the gold bullion (not cameras) to your PayPal account address. You remember that your partner asked you to change your PayPal account address to their address, so they could pick up the gold.
    • You paid the supplier for the cameras, so you file a complaint against the supplier. Unfortunately, you learn that you may be liable for the money since the supplier delivered the merchandise to your PayPal account address.
How to avoid this scam:
  • If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Know who you are dealing with.
  • Don't list someone else's address on your PayPal account.
  • Verify your suppliers and don't send money to someone you don't know.
  • Only ship items to the address on the Transaction Details page.
  • Be on alert if you’re asked to ship a lot of packages overseas or to the same post office box.
If you think you’ve received a suspicious email or have been directed to a fake website, forward it to phishing@paypal.com and we’ll investigate it for you. After you send us the email, delete it from your inbox. If you clicked on any links or downloaded any attachments within the suspicious email or website, log into your account and view your transactions. It’s also a good idea to change your password.
 
To report SPAM SMS messages, forward them to ‘7726’ (which is the key for SPAM on most phones). Check with your service provider to find if this service is supported or read more here: http://www.gsma.com/aboutus/.  
 
To view all transactions and activity, log in to your PayPal account and check your recent activity. If you see any unauthorized transactions, go to the Resolution Center to report them.

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