The numbers are there, and the message is clear; gone are the days when consumers buy most of their holiday gifts by visiting the store. Online retail shopping is tremendously convenient for customers, but conversely, can make the already busy holiday shipping season even more stressful.
Holiday Shipping – How to Prepare
Preparation is critical, but we have some additional tips to take some of stress out of shipping freight during the holiday season. The holidays are stressful enough and nobody wants to add more pressure by trying to keep everything under control.
Have a Plan
Managing your supply chain successfully around the holidays without extensive planning is inviting disaster. Set production and order deadlines to have the product ready and allow yourself some lead time.
Most transportation providers will be closed for the holidays or run very limited operations, which could jeopardize on-time pick-up, increase transit time, and delay delivery. You need to ship early to prepare for this peak. Even when trying to ship early, you’ll still be dealing with a high volume of shipments that could cause delays in docks and warehouses, which can lead to backups and congestion. When shipping as early as possible, you give yourself flexibility for on-time delivery to customers.
Consider All Shipping Options
Every company has its own needs when it comes to shipping. For example, small businesses can make use of less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping to help ensure on-time delivery while also lowering shipping costs. However, larger companies with higher shipping volumes can consider different methods of shipping, like FTL and intermodal shipping. No matter the size of your business, it is essential to have a plan for your shipments.
Customers expect to know of delays or issues that impact receiving shipments as quickly as possible. Delays do occur, so it’s essential to effectively communicate with customers about when to expect their freight. Companies have orders and shipping deadlines, so remember to communicate with your customers about those deadlines. Additionally, inventory levels are always changing. When an item is out of stock, ensure that it’s clearly marked on the website to avoid backorders.
Communication isn’t limited to only your customers. You should also be in touch with suppliers. The holiday season is busy, so it’s best to share order volumes ahead of time to stay current on orders. Especially during the busy holiday season, often companies look to expand their manufacturer mix if the primary choices are unavailable. Having a backup decreases risk. Factor in everything that will help you with your company and suppliers during the peak season.
Holiday Shipping: What to Expect
Finding capacity during peak times will be more challenging than usual in the run up to the holidays. The shorter the lead time, the tighter the capacity is always the case. And even more so during the holidays. All the last-minute orders, which must be delivered before facilities shut down will increase the need and demand for more shipping capacity.
Drivers will be more selective with the destinations, as they try to get home for the holidays. Most will try to plan and book their homebound holiday runs in advance to ensure they don’t end up with a load that takes them anywhere but home.
Lower capacity brings higher shipping rates. The best way to keep costs under control is to give yourself a decent lead time. Plan and be ready for issues.
Allow yourself to have options available. Waiting until the last day and trying to push all orders out will be costly. You might need to pay more, even if you started planning your holiday loads earlier. However, a greater lead time increases the chances and the time to find the driver who is going where you need them to be.
Track & Trace
Check and then recheck. Proper planning and shipping everything out is only half the battle. Transit and delivery times are always affected during the holidays. Whether the shipment is a less-than-truckload or full loads, make sure you’re on the same page as the carriers. Most companies will limit or cease operations around the holidays.
It’s essential to communicate estimated delivery times. Some carriers do work and might be willing to deliver during a holiday. Poor communication will result in the load arriving at the customer’s closed door. The best way to stay on top of everything is to have proper operations visibility.
Shipping with BGL for the Holiday Season
Best Global Logistics has experience in navigating the struggles of the peak shipping season. We always provide visibility into your supply chain and will help you through the process, even at the busiest times of the year. Start by using our online form to Get a Freight Quote today!