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We live in a world of next-day deliveries and “30 minutes or less” food service. Needless to say, late freight shipments create a massive headache for customers and companies alike.
Sometimes, however, late freight arrivals are unavoidable. Luckily though, there are a variety of steps you can take in an attempt to potentially minimize freight delays.
In this blog post, we will review some of the major causes of late freight shipments and provide some key insights into things you can do right now to make sure that your shipments both leave and arrive on time.
Both natural phenomena and human-related causes can lead to late freight deliveries. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why your shipments aren’t arriving when expected.
Every region of the country (and every part of the world as a whole) provides unique weather-related challenges with regard to freight shipments. This is especially true during certain times of the year, such as hurricane season in the coastal states, and snowy winter weather during the later months.
Not to mention, there are occasional freak weather incidents and natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, tornadoes and wildfires, which can disrupt large swaths of the country for extended periods of time.
In any of these situations where carriers are practicing the utmost cautionary strategies to protect the well-being of their drivers and your freight, delays are to be expected. Having a plan in place, ready to counter this issue is the wisest and most critical choice for these sorts of situations where complete control is actually out of human hands.
Throughout the year, there are various periods that see significantly increased shipping volume. Extremely busy shipping times, such as the winter holidays, can lead to massive backups and delayed freight.
During these periods, warehouses and other supply chain entities have to process significant numbers of shipments. As a result, many companies warn consumers preemptively that they should order gifts and send packages early, in order to avoid these delays.
However, even the most well-thought-out plans to avoid this can still go awry under the pressure of holiday shopping.
No matter how many automated processes we integrate into our systems, we will never fully overcome human error. Even a mistake of a single digit on an order can cause a package to travel to an incorrect facility, resulting in huge delays once companies recognize and correct the error in question.
People will always be an integral process of our logistics operations. As a result, human error will always be present in these systems as well.
Traffic is something that all of us are intimately familiar with. Furthermore, even when we use a GPS, take back roads, and generally try to avoid traffic, it will always find us on occasion.
The same is true for freight shipments. No matter how hard a carrier may try, they are likely to encounter traffic at one point or another. Accidents, road closures and construction can hinder delivery drivers at any time, much to everyone’s chagrin.
Now that we’ve identified some of the common ways in which freight can be delayed, let’s take a look at some actionable tips you can implement to overcome these issues.
In most cases, one can make a reasonably accurate guess as to when late freight shipments will arrive. By using data from past years, any available predictive data about current weather conditions, and other information, one can provide their customers with at least a general expectation of when a shipment should arrive.
Relying on these methods can enable your company to provide your customers with a way of knowing when their goods will get to them. It is more than just standard tracking of freight, it is full transparency when it matters the most and shows your customers that you take a proactive stance when it comes to their business. This is a much better alternative to providing an unrealistic delivery time, which might be impossible to achieve.
As previously mentioned, some shipping delays are completely out of human control. A business can take every possible step to get its shipment to its destination on time and still succumb to a variety of delays.
Attempting to avoid every possible scenario that could hamper a shipment's movement is not always a feasible approach for a business to take.
However, there is a balance that businesses must strive to reach in these situations. Customers are the life force that drives any business that caters to the public. Keeping those customers happy is crucial. One of the best ways you can do that is by keeping them in the loop when it comes to their shipments. An appreciated and valued customer is a happy customer.
If your customers can receive consistent (non-intrusive) updates about where their goods are and roughly when they’ll arrive, they’ll be much happier than simply waiting for infrequent notifications. Something as simple as a steadier cadence of updates in situations involving a major delay can be a game changer.
Carriers have vast networks, which are generally reliable for all shipping needs. However, certain issues can disrupt a carrier’s entire operational system. If you work with only one carrier, and their operations are compromised, you’ll be left to scramble as you try to quickly negotiate a contract with another carrier to handle your current orders.
Instead, you should aim to partner with at least two different carriers. This way, if an unpredicted disaster or huge shipping issue affects one of your carriers, the other will be able to pick up the slack.
Late freight shipments are an issue that affects us all: customers, shippers and everyone in between. That being said, there are some key steps that companies can take to mitigate late shipments and keep their customers happy.
By practicing the suggestions outlined in this article, you will keep your operations running smoothly while also sending and receiving your shipments on time.
Better yet, reach out to the Redwood team and let us help you discover ways to get your later freight shipments in line.