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This week, we feature an article by Kiel Harkness, Head of Global Marketing and Business Intelligence at UPS Capital®. He discusses how SMBs can make the most of the holiday season by investing in proper protection. When the leftover turkey has been stowed away in the fridge and the football game has wrapped up, consumers will turn their focus to their holiday spending. But unlike years past, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are struggling amidst a lingering global pandemic that’s brought supply chain disruptions, rising inflation, shipping, and delivery delays, and workforce staffing shortages. This is on top of their usual tough competition against retail and e-commerce conglomerates like Walmart and Amazon.    Despite the struggles, the opportunity for SMBs to capitalize on holiday shopping remains steady. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports $20 billion of Small Business Saturday spending occurred last year, during the pandemic. Not only is there a desire to spend among consumers, but we’re seeing the holiday shopping season is critical for SMBs to meet their business goals. New findings from our UPS Capital 2021 Holiday Shipping Experience Report found that 44% of SMBs report making more than a fifth of their total annual sales from Small Business Saturday and holiday spending in general. This reflects the massive pressures on businesses to not be faltered by pandemic losses and to continue to deliver for customers.  This can be challenging for SMBs with the events that occur when products are out the door and en route to doorsteps. From porch piracy to lost cargo to damaged packages, these unprecedented events can have a drastic impact on the customer experience, and the business’s overall performance this holiday season. Here are some tips for how SMBs can invest in proper protections to make the most of this holiday season.  

Protect Parcels From Your Doorstep to The Customer’s

One of the biggest roadblocks that businesses face this year is the massive disruption to the supply chain, causing goods to be delayed in production and trickling down to the consumer. Approximately 33% of SMBs are concerned about supply constraints interrupting their merchandise availability, while 68% are concerned with delivery delays.  With the fast pace of the holiday season and a sharp uptick in deliveries, it’s more likely that packages will get lost in the shuffle, damaged in transit, or even stolen off the customer’s front porch. Consumers want excellent customer support when things go wrong with their delivery, and UPS Capital’s survey reports that 35% of shoppers will be motivated to shop with an SMB, as long as they are guaranteed replacement items.   To protect both the business and the customer experience, it’s important SMBs make sure their shipments are insured for even the most unexpected events – from cargo trucks going up in flames to extreme weather, to porch piracy, insurance can provide retailers the confidence they need to quickly reship and provide a positive outcome in the wake of an issue. From the customer’s standpoint, a lack of communication, refund, or replacement items is grounds for losing their loyalty. Most SMBs, they’re often unable to eat the cost of a lost or damaged item, making shipping insurance protections ideal for both parties.   

Offer Competitive Discounts

Inflation has hit everyone hard with the annual rate reaching 5.4% in 2021, almost triple what the rate was in 2019, according to the US Inflation Calculator. As a result, UPS Capital’s survey found that 23% of consumers have cut back their holiday spending budget, citing inflation. SMBs share this concern, with the survey finding four in five business owners worried about what impact inflation will have on their holiday revenue.   Who doesn’t love a discount? Approximately 81% of consumers are motivated by bargain hunting during their holiday shopping. Consider a loyalty program to keep customers coming back and thanking them for their consistent support and spending, whether it’s a free gift with purchase or 20% off their next order. It may be tough this year to consider discount offerings with the rising cost of goods, but offering enticing deals can be a tried-and-true strategy for driving loyal customers to your website and turning browsers into buyers.  

Refine the Return and Replacement Process

With the surge in e-commerce spending, returns and exchanges have become a routine part of the process. As such, consumer expectations for these policies are rising. According to UPS Capital’s survey, 82% of consumers are motivated to purchase when the business offers free returns. This can create a frictionless experience if the item doesn’t meet a customer’s needs, and help the business to compete with the seamless return processes of the big retailers like Amazon.   To create a simple process for the customer, including a return label in the original packaging. Use packaging that can be used as the return, preventing the customer from having to buy or find a new box to ship back the product. Winning over new customers isn’t an easy feat but incorporating even slight tweaks to improve the exchange and return experience can make a big difference in earning new customers and maintaining loyal ones.   

Amp Up Communications When There’s a Mishap

UPS Capital’s survey found that over 26% of SMBs are concerned about their shipments getting lost in the shuffle, broken in transit, or stolen. So, it is critical to prepare for these situations.  Amp up communication between employees and customers with a working phone number or email, as 39% of customers will shop somewhere else if they feel that communication is not up to par regarding delayed deliveries. In fact, 44% of consumers would never shop with a retailer again if there was a lack of resolution support for stolen or damaged packages. 


This year is shaping up to be a tough year for businesses as we continue to navigate a pandemic-driven world. SMBs are already feeling the heat between supply chain rifts and inflation’s impact on holiday spending budgets. By taking these steps to increase customer satisfaction, SMBs and consumers alike can make the most of another unprecedented holiday season.  Find the insurance disclosure here: Kiel Harkness, Head of Global Marketing and Business Intelligence at UPS Capital®. He manages and directs global UPS Capital Digital Marketing and Digital Properties, Channel Marketing, Business Intelligence, Product Development, Communications and Advertising, and International Field Marketing teams.
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