Thanksgiving is just days away. And with it comes the kick-off of the peak shipping season—also known as the parcel industry’s Super Bowl.

Online retailers will see shipping volume spike in the last few weeks of 2016. It’s a chance for them to gain financial ground if the first three quarters of the year didn’t meet expectations.

All those extra sales can fall flat, though, if shipping delays result in disappointed customers, or if retailers overpay shipping costs—even by just a dollar. Retailers can avoid lag time and boost their bottom-line if they optimize shipping operations now.

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Take a cue from UPS.

Like other package delivery companies, UPS benefitted from the rapid rise of ecommerce. But the company also struggled to meet the changing demands associated with the higher-than-expected number of residential deliveries, and has taken hits on social media from dissatisfied customers.

To address these challenges, in 2015 UPS started talking with retailers about holiday deliveries in March—six months before the peak shipping season. The company also boosted its network capacity, reduced fuel costs and enhanced its technology. Recalibrating their shipping operations paid off. The company deemed last year’s peak shipping season a success and had the numbers to prove it.

The UPS domestic package business grew by nearly 2.5 percent in the last year; its cost per package decreased 2 percent; and, total revenue increased to $9 billion. All with the help of a supply chain tune-up and by communicating early and often with retailers.

Those are some of the steps UPS took to prepare for the busiest shipping time of the year. But what about your business? Is your organization ready for peak season and the influx of online orders it’s about to ship? Or does your organization also need a supply chain tune-up?

The UPS domestic package business grew by nearly 2.5 percent in the last year; its cost per package decreased 2 percent; and, total revenue increased to $9 billion.

One of the most important steps parcel shippers can take is to clearly communicate shipping times. Ensuring customers know the correct cut-off times for the holidays can reduce the likelihood of surprises and unhappy shoppers.

Keep in mind: Even if your business consistently ships the same number of packages year-round, you’ll still likely be impacted by the influx of seasonal shipments. Plan for extra shipping time as your parcel will have to squeeze through the same carrier networks as hundreds of millions of other packages in the pipeline.

There’s still time to fine-tune your shipping operations to ensure your bottom-line sees a holiday boost—not a bust. Implement changes now so your supply chain peaks when package count is highest.

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