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Latin America Holidays: How to Navigate Shipping to LATAM

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
3 mins

The holidays are a stressful time for consumers and retailers alike, and Latin America holidays are no different. Both shoppers and sellers are trying to stay under-budget and get gifts to arrive on-time. For retailers and exporters looking to the South for new business this holiday season, we’ve put together a guide for shipping during the Latin America holidays.

Understanding Latin America Holidays

While the U.S. and Latin America share many cultural similarities when it comes to the Christmas holidays, there are some unique things for retailers and exporters to understand about how and when the region celebrates.

Thanks in large part to the dominance of Catholicism, many of the holiday traditions in Latin America center around faith and family. In the U.S., Christmas day is the focus of many families’ celebrations, but in Latin America two other days take precedence.

December 24th, known as Noche Buena, is when many Latin Americans typically exchange gifts, celebrate with family, cook up a large feast, and attend a late-night mass. Navidad, or Christmas Day (when most U.S. families celebrate), is a much more relaxed day of celebration down south.

While the gift-giving portion of the holidays typically ends on Dec. 25 in the U.S., that isn’t the case for Latin America holidays. Instead, El Dia de los Reyes Magos (Jan. 6), also known as Three Kings’ Day or Epiphany, is when many Latin American families give Christmas gifts to their children. They do this in honor of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the three visiting kings. This holiday marks the end of twelve days of Christmas celebrations.

Each country has its own tradition during the holidays. Mexico, for example, kicks off the holiday season by celebrating las posadas, a holiday lasting from December 16-24 that marks the time that Mary and Joseph sought shelter before the birth of Jesus. It’s celebrated with songs, piñatas, candy, and gatherings. Other traditions center around religious feast days, like the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 6) and the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 8)

During las posadas in Mexico, piñatas filled with candy are brought to celebrations. - Image source

Latin America holidays extend beyond the normal timeframe of the U.S. holiday season. Understanding this will help you better serve your Latin American customers’ needs during this busy time.

Shipping Tips During Latin America Holidays

No matter where your customers are, during the holiday season the top concern they have is whether packages will arrive on time. Cross-border shipping takes longer due to the long distances and customs processes, but with proper planning you can keep your customers happy while managing costs.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure that your Latin American customers remain satisfied during the holiday season.

1. Plan Ahea

If you’re new to shipping to Latin America, it’s critical that you plan ahead to keep shipping costs and times down. Whether you’re processing five orders a day or five hundred, partnering with a fulfillment center located as close to Latin America as possible will speed up the shipping process significantly.

We also recommend doing some of the customs legwork now to avoid headaches down the line. Learn how to complete your customs paperwork electronically, or find a logistics company that can do it for you. Electronic documentation can integrate into your other business technologies for easier tracking.

El Dia de los Reyes Magos features joyous celebrations, like this one in Peru. - Image source

2. Set Clear Expectations

For customers, not knowing if a package will arrive on time can kill a sale. Retailers need to work with their preferred shipping company to set clear expectations. Provide transparent cut-off times for when orders will arrive before a popular holiday.

For Latin American consumers, it may be wise to provide cut-off dates beyond Christmas. For example, when is the last possible time someone can order from your site to have it arrive before El Dia de los Reyes Magos (Jan. 6)?

3. Provide Tracking Capabilities

The stress of knowing if a package will get there on time is amplified with cross-border shipping, since many companies don’t provide door-to-door tracking. Find a logistics partner that can offer this convenience across Latin America so that your business can compete against local companies that already offer tracking services on deliveries.

4. Have A Plan for Reverse Logistics

With online holiday shopping comes the inevitable holiday returns. Known as reverse logistics, managing returns is a costly headache for consumers and retailers. Make sure you have a shipping company that can process returns and a trained customer service staff to field international return requests.

Team Up With SkyPostal This Holiday Season

SkyPostal has decades of experience shipping across Latin America. Our network of trusted couriers helps us get packages delivered safely and on time. Plus, we offer package tracking, integrated shipping technologies, and returns processing.

Make this a holiday to remember for your company by giving SkyPostal a call today.