How to Dominate the 2020 Peak Shipping Season
The holiday season is always challenging for e-commerce and retail businesses alike, but 2020 has given us new obstacles to face this peak shipping season.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has hit our economy and dismantled traditional supply chains, businesses should be preparing for new ways of addressing this year’s unique concerns with regards to on-time and efficient deliveries. And although the pandemic temporarily weakened consumer demand, we’ve seen a steady increase in e-commerce purchasing since June, and we expect trends to return to near-normal (or more, according to CBRE holiday report) for the 2020 holiday season.
Customers are still demanding on-time, fast delivery, caring not for what has gone on in the transportation industry the previous months of 2020. They want their holiday gifts quickly and inexpensively. That’s why it’s even more critical than ever to prepare and plan for the peak shipping season in a way that will allow your business to not only survive but dominate the market this 2020 holiday season.
One of the first steps before venturing forth into the 2020 peak shipping season is to find a reliable 3PL to partner with. Leveraging the power of a strong relationship with a team of logistics experts will help you weather this year’s shipping changes. Contact the team here at Redwood for a free consultation to help prepare your supply chain operations for the upcoming peak retail season.
You know at this point the importance of technology or creating a contingency plan. But this guide is going to not only list the ways to dominate the peak season, but we’ll also give you one key actionable step for each of these issues that you can do right now to see major success this holiday shipping season.
Be aware of freight capacity and market
There are two major challenges that you want to be aware of when preparing for peak shipping season in 2020:
- Capacity is lower than usual
- Carrier rates are higher than usual
A lot of freight transporters have had major layoffs, health and safety concerns, and severe supply chain disruptions. This has left capacity low, even when demand was rebounding. In return, a lot of the freight spot rates have increased as businesses are frantically looking for shipping capacity for their goods.
Most notably, air freight has seen a lot of volatility. Cancelled passenger flights meant a reduction in belly capacity, and governments and private sectors have prioritized PPE shipping through the fastest freight line (aka air freight). Decreased capacity and high rates mean air shipment may not be possible for a lot of businesses this season.
Diversify your overseas shipping. You can have a few products come quickly and reliably by air to get you started with the season, and also replenish your inventory at a lower cost by ocean freight. An easy and effective way to diversify your shipping is by hiring a multimodal broker to get you the multimodal routes and capacity you need within your budget.
Work with a third-party logistics provider
The benefits of working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) are numerous and hard to compare. They have a strong network of carriers to ensure they always have access to capacity; they are experts in their field so they can handle supply chain disruptions effectively, and they dramatically lower shipping expenses—to name a few.
Check out these other benefits of working with a 3PL here. If you want to have a fast track to success without worrying about the unpredictability of the freight market, a 3PL is the only way to streamline the transportation process.
Contact Redwood Logistics right now. We’ll customize a service plan for your specific business to ensure your peak shipping season runs smoothly, efficiently, and within your budget. We also have access to a network of LTL trailers so you can find on-demand capacity and short-term contracts, even on short notice. Plus, we offer multimodal brokerage services to help you diversify your offerings.
Offer impeccable service for customers
The top priority for online shoppers during the holiday season is speed. They want their goods delivered quickly—and not just “by Christmas.” So, for customers, “impeccable” service looks like the transparency of the delivery process.
Offering a tracking number with detailed information is critical to keeping customers happy during the holiday season. Customers are more likely to be understanding of potential delays, especially during a pandemic, if they know what’s going on. If they have access to a tracking number, they can see where their items are, why they were delayed, and when the expected arrival time is.
If possible, you can even open up a direct contact line (like a chatbox) for customers to contact the business or shipper to find out more information about their goods.
Provide digital tracking options to consumers. It’s easy, effective, reduces returns, and engenders happy customers. This level of customer service can help offset any potential delays or disruptions you’ll inevitably run into this 2020 holiday season.
Open up the lines of communication in your supply chain
Transparency isn’t just important for customers. If you want a successful supply chain in uncertain times, you need one certainty among all partners: collaboration. Those shippers who can integrate systems and have effective daily communications with their partners are guaranteed to see the highest success this season.
One of the best ways to communicate between all partners, especially in a complicated network, is through cloud-based blockchain technology. If you haven’t yet implemented this technology, the busy holiday season probably isn’t the time to start.
However, you can partner with a 3PL who already utilizes these kinds of advanced technologies with their network of partners. This provides a fast track to collaboration that can help you see major success for the peak shipping season.
Work with your supply chain partners to answer the questions: What do we need to do to communicate better? What kind of tools and technologies do we need to employ to minimize miscommunications and enhance collaborative innovation?
Is your company using all of its resources, including its tech resources, to the best of its ability? We’ve seen it too many times that companies have implemented and trained on technologies that no one is using. Maybe it’s time to dust off those training manuals and re-introduce key technologies and management systems to your team, especially those technologies that integrate beautifully with your partners’.
Technology is there to serve us. It has already infiltrated every part of the transportation industry, and it’s time for individual shippers and supply chain partners to get onboard. Transportation management systems and artificial intelligence are especially useful to understand strengths and weaknesses in your business, predict demand and risks, and respond quickly and effectively to up-to-date changes by the minute.
Take stock of how your current technologies could be better utilized. Before the holiday season hits, consider additional technology implementations that your business could handle to enhance partner communication, consumer transparency, and ease of operations. (Now isn’t the time to implement radically new technology, though. Your workers are already swamped enough without having to learn and use an entirely new system. Use what you have—just use it more wisely or fully.)
Create contingency plans
Most businesses were left in the lurch when a global pandemic hit. That’s why we ran into such major disruptions in the supply chain: businesses didn’t have risk strategies in place that they could engage when the unexpected went down. Now, we understand more than ever that disruptions are going to happen—and sometimes in ways that we could never have predicted—so we need to create contingency plans for those disturbances.
Read some of our resources about how to handle risk management for your business:
- The importance of supply chain risk management
- Risk mitigation strategies you need to implement
- Future of risk prevent: increasing supply chain transparency and responsiveness
- Can your upstream handle supply chain disruptions?
Create a risk management team. Having a few of your company’s brightest minds brainstorming how you’ll mitigate predicted risks and respond to unpredicted ones is sure to keep your company up and running, come whatever may this season.
The earlier you start preparing, the better poised you’ll be for the shipping season. Having a buffer of time allows you to better prevent delays, respond to disruptions, navigate customs documentation and tariffs, and effectively establish delivery timelines for your customers.
Starting early also minimizes your competition, and you don’t have to pay high rates for faster delivery during peak shipping season. This means you have access to greater capacity at lower spot rates; with speed and budget so critical for customer service during the holiday season, starting right now can get you ahead of the game and on the track to success.
Contact Redwood Logistics if you want…
- Transparency throughout your supply chain, from partners to consumers
- Access to a network of carriers with available capacity,
- Lower shipping costs and operations expenses,
- Advanced technology implementation,
- Multimodal brokerage to ensure available capacity, low costs, and ease of transport,
- A partner with a strong contingency plan (who even remained strong and successful during COVID-19 lockdowns),
- In-depth knowledge of and experience in the industry,
- And fast, quick service for you and your customers…
Schedule a free consultation with our team of shipping experts now to start creating your custom plan so your business can dominate the 2020 holiday season.