How to Get Your Last-Mile Delivery Ready for the Holidays

Get your retail delivery ready for the holidays with these practical tips from DoorDash merchants.

10 min read
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The holidays are here: is your last-mile delivery program ready? Today’s customers expect retail delivery to be quick and convenient. With the retail holiday rush in full force, it’s important to ensure that your retail delivery plans are in place — especially for last-minute gift-givers.

In this piece, we’ll cover what last-mile delivery is, share tips and tricks for easy retail delivery from experienced merchants, and offer practical advice for facing the holiday rush. Keep reading to get your delivery program ready for the holidays.

What is last-mile delivery?

Simply put, last-mile delivery is the final stage in a product’s delivery journey: when it gets handed off to a customer.

Last-mile delivery can occur multiple ways: through a logistics and delivery company like UPS, through a local courier, through a retail delivery partner like DoorDash, through your own delivery drivers, or through yourself — delivering orders personally.

How to prepare your last-mile delivery for the holidays

As you prepare your retail delivery program for the holidays this year, it can be helpful to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What do they need? What would make their lives easier? How can you surprise and delight them by offering unexpected extras?

With customers more cost-conscious than ever this year (a major 2022 holiday retail trend), it’s especially important to consider the costs of local retail delivery and how that factors into an order’s total cost — and find ways to make delivery costs feel worth it for customers.

Have an organized system for taking retail delivery orders

First, it’s important to have a reliable system for receiving, confirming, and processing delivery orders — with the busy holiday season, nobody wants their order to get lost in the shuffle! Make sure your entire team is trained on your POS and can handle any incoming orders. If you use DoorDash for retail same day delivery, make sure your team is trained how to use a tablet to accept orders and set an estimated prep time.

As you set up your system for taking orders, it’s also worth reviewing your inventory to make sure numbers are accurate.

Stock up on your best-sellers

It can be scary to make big wholesale orders before the holidays, especially if you’re unsure of how well the items will sell. Consider buying from a platform like Faire, which offers risk-free returns on some items, or be strategic about what you can buy now and sell at a discount later.

Despite the risk, it’s important to have enough inventory to fulfill all of your incoming orders. Jaime Morrison Curtis, owner of Greenwood Shop, a plant and gift shop in Los Angeles, recommends stocking up as much as you can. She says she always sells more around the holidays than she thinks she will.

Jaime Morrison Curtis

I think that the reason that customers are more reserved right now is because they’re waiting for the holidays. Don’t think that because it’s a little slow right now that it’s going to stay that way.

Jaime Morrison Curtis, Owner, Greenwood Shop

Prep orders ahead of time as much as possible

Additionally, as you plan your holiday inventory, consider offering gift packages or bundles that you can package in advance, saving you valuable time when the holiday rush hits.

Having a simplified list of gift options can also save your customers a headache. For example, consider building creative bundles that take the guesswork out of gift-giving, like a relaxing spa package for mom, a snow day game bundle for kids, a gardening basket for anyone with a green thumb, or a puzzle enthusiast box for a brainy friend.

Jaime Morrison Curtis

What I’ve noticed is that our customers who are ordering through delivery platforms around the holidays are waiting until the last minute to buy a gift. This year, we might replace our regular DoorDash menu with a simplified gift menu featuring products that we know we have in store — gift baskets that are pre-packed and ready to go.

Jaime Morrison Curtis, Owner, Greenwood Shop

Dedicate someone on staff to focus on all of your delivery orders

With increased foot traffic around the holidays, it can be helpful to assign one or more members of your team to focus solely on retail same day delivery orders. This person should focus on a handful of tasks, including:

  • Monitoring and accepting new orders as they come in, whether it’s by tablet, POS, or phone

  • Packaging and preparing orders for last-mile delivery

  • Handing the package to the correct delivery person

  • Marking the order as completed and ensuring it was delivered

  • Standing by for any customer questions, and solving any issues that may come up

Wrap your items in festive packaging that promotes your business

One of the best parts about the holidays is all of the fun gift wrapping. A few ribbons, some tinsel, custom stickers, or festive printed wrapping paper can help create a memorable experience for your customers and their loved ones.

For the holidays, consider offering free or discounted holiday wrapping for retail delivery orders to encourage purchases. Little bonuses like this can set your store apart, surprising and delighting your customers, and helping them take one more item off their to-do list.

Plus, investing in wrapping materials that communicate your store name and brand (Noissue has a great guide for creative packaging ideas) can help build a connection with customers, so that they’re more likely to remember your business.

Invest in holiday extras

One way to get into the holiday spirit is to offer your customers freebies. Whether it’s free gift-wrapping, a free gift-with-purchase, or an offer of first delivery free, everyone likes getting a deal.

I really love to give back. That was my thing when I first started my business — I would always give my customers a free something, even if it was a simple thing like a comb. Because of that, I was able to drive in more customers. – Teona Miller, Owner of Hair & Beauty Maze

Have a dedicated area for easy order pickup

Once a last-mile delivery order is ready to go, you can streamline the pickup process by creating a dedicated space for delivery packages. Clear a table in your store and place clear signage around it so that delivery drivers can easily get in and out, and be on their way.

Care for your customers

Finally, it’s important to take care of your customers. One of the most important things you can offer your customers as a small business owner is a personal touch. If customers are unhappy with an order for any reason, offer to talk through it on the phone. If a customer places an especially large order, consider sending it with a handwritten thank you note.

However you choose to connect with your customers, the effects can be incredibly meaningful — and isn’t that what the holidays are all about, cherishing the love and connections we have with one another?

A last-mile delivery partner that helps you grow your business

With the holidays on the horizon, partnering with the right last-mile delivery service can make a big difference for your business.

Consider signing up with DoorDash for retail delivery, a platform that serves over 25 million active consumers each month including the people in your neighborhood. Partnering with Dashers makes it easy to offer last-mile delivery with a minimal change in your day-to-day operations. Plus, with tools like Promotions and Sponsored Listings, you can ensure your store makes it to the top of the list, helping to drive new and repeat sales. 

Sign up for DoorDash retail delivery today to go the extra mile with your last mile.


Ali Cottong
Ali Cottong


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