Ship dates may seem arbitrary, but they can have a major impact on the financial bottom line of your organization as well as how satisfied your customers are.

Choosing ship dates that are realistic and that are in sync with when your customers expect products to be delivered is a fundamental part of doing good business.

Overview: What is a ship date?

A ship date is defined as the latest day that a shipment can depart a facility.

2 benefits and 1 drawback of a ship date

There are a couple of clear benefits to having set ship dates as well as a drawback:

Benefit 1: They can be set in advance

With standard postal services, you have the freedom to set your ship date on your labels seven days in advance. With some freight companies, you can set it up much further ahead of time than that.

Benefit 2: Prevents procrastination

By having a defined ship date looming on the horizon, your team is more likely to take all the necessary steps in advance to make sure everything is set to go prior to the date of shipping.

Drawback 1: Potential refusal if trying to ship after the ship date

Once it is past the ship date on your label, it is up to the discretion of the postal worker if they want to accept it for shipping. It is possible that if you are trying to send out an item past its labeled ship date, it could face refusal.

Why is a ship date important to understand?

A ship date is important to understand for the following reasons:

It provides a deadline

Understanding the importance of a ship date should help you organize your processes to be able to meet the date.

Being realistic

Knowing an expected ship date in advance allows you to determine if having the product ready to go by that date is actually realistic.

Giving customers a timeline

Having an understanding of your organization’s shipping date on a product allows you to give your customers a better timeline of when to expect delivery.

An industry example of a ship date

A footwear company has a new sneaker that is expected to hit retail stores by a certain date. In order to ensure that all stores have the sneakers by the release date, the manufacturer must set the appropriate ship date.

3 best practices when thinking about a ship date

Here are some best practices to think about when it comes to setting a ship date:

1. Consult the relevant parties in your organization

Before setting a ship date, it is important to consult with team leaders across all of the departments that have a role in getting your products ready to ship. This way, you can be certain that the date you are selecting is appropriate and that everyone involved is aware of the impending date and doing the work necessary to meet it.

2. Give yourself some lead time

Things happen that are out of our control. If possible, set your ship date so that your customer receives it ahead of the expected delivery date. This way, you have some shielding against issues that could come up within your organization or to compensate for anything that may occur once your products leave your facility. It is generally better to receive an expected delivery early as opposed to it arriving late.

3. Ensure proper tracking

Make sure that you have proper tracking set up before your items leave your facility. Once the ship date has arrived and your products are picked up to be delivered, that is not the end of your organization’s responsibility. Customers will often want to be kept up-to-date about their items until they are in hand. It is important to be aware of any issues that may occur during this period so that the customer can be made aware and plan accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about a ship date

What is the difference between a ship date and a delivery date?

A ship date is the calendar date that an item is being shipped, while a delivery date is the calendar date when the item is expected to be delivered.

What are some factors to take into account when setting a ship date?

Some factors to keep in mind when setting a ship date are transit times, federal holidays, potential slowdowns due to weather, and customs for international orders.

How can ship dates be the most cost-effective?

Being aware of when an item is expected to be delivered allows you to set a shipping date that can help assure on-time delivery. Depending on the distance of the delivery, you may need to adjust your ship date. If you choose the wrong ship date, the shipping cost may be more than anticipated and your organization may have to foot the bill. If your products arrive to the customer later than they want, the customer may refuse the order, which will also cost your organization. Picking the appropriate ship dates helps keep business cost-effective for your company.

Choosing the right ship dates

In business, thinking about ship dates may not seem very exciting. This aspect, however, is an important part of doing good business. Gathering all the relevant data in order to set the right ship dates so that your customers get your products on time is a fundamental part of the success of any organization.
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