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As award coordinators and event planners rise to the challenge of managing award events during the pandemic, one smart step in the process is to drop ship awards directly to recipients.
How do I drop ship awards directly to recipients?
After you've chosen your awards and identified your recipients, ask each recipient for a shipping address (at the moment, these are very likely home addresses). Provide your award vendor with the information and ask them to ship directly to recipients.
How much does it cost to drop ship to award winners?
Fees for drop shipping vary, since shipping costs depend on the weight of the award and the distance it will travel. International drop shipping is more costly than domestic shipping, since there is often customs paperwork required. Ask your award vendor for a quote in advance. The more information you can provide up front, the more accurately your vendor can estimate the actual costs of your shipments.
Will I save money by drop shipping the awards myself?
Probably not. If you have all the awards shipped to you first, they will not be packed for individual shipments. The boxes that protect them are generally not strong enough to withstand shipping via common carrier or post. You will likely need to purchase additional corrugated, void fill, and tape. You will need repackage the individual awards to ensure that they are protected from damage during shipment.
Once you've got the package ready to ship, you'll need to weigh it (do you have a scale?), then create and print your own shipping labels and do all the address verification, which may take some time depending on your familiarity with your carrier's shipping application. For international shipments, you will need to familiarize yourself with the tariff codes, the new USMCA certification steps, and the various requirements for customs documentation. If your organization routinely does a lot of shipping and has competitive ground-carrier rates, you may be able to save on the actual cost of shipping. Chance are, however, that your award vendor routinely ships more packages than you do and can pass on more competitive rates.
What about the environmental costs of shipping awards?
You can minimize the environment costs of shipping awards by drop shipping directly from your awards vendor rather than having a shipment to you and then a second shipment to recipients.
You can further minimize environmental costs by choosing a vendor who ships awards carbon neutral. Rivanna, for example, ships all awards using UPS Carbon Neutral. Each award package has a sticker to that effect. Our customers tell us that award recipients love this attention to detail!
Not having an award ceremony is a downer. How can I still make this a special occasion for award winners?
Consider including a personal note or card with each award. Handwritten notes can be shipping to your vendor prior to award distribution. Other notes can simply be printed remotely by your vendor and included with the award package.
Ask your award recipients to take photos or videos of themselves with their awards and for their permission to share their images on social media.
Ask your award vendor for other ideas. At Rivanna, for example, we're working with various customers on fun ideas for virtual award ceremonies. We'll write about them as we go, so check back in with us to learn more.