If you’re in the logistics and retail industries, getting an early jump on the holidays is critical to managing your supply chain during peak shipping season.
Logistically, everything kicks into high gear as we move freight back and forth in time for the profitable retail months of November and December. Whether for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or to transport Douglas firs and blue spruces to Christmas tree lots across America, getting product in place affects your bottom line. In an industry where time is always of the essence, speed and planning are never more vital than during the holiday rush.
How do retailers, manufacturers, and carriers handle the supply chain stress, considering increased demand and expedited shipments during crunch time? And what can you do to prepare?
FreightCenter offers the following tips for managing your retail supply chain (and stress) during the most wonderful time of the year.
Start planning now. Everyone will be shipping during the holidays. Retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers are preparing now by giving their freight providers advanced notice.
Although 3PLs are experts at keeping your supply chain kink-free year-round, during our busiest season, it helps to know how many trucks or how much space will be needed ahead of time.
Consider the unique needs of online shopping. The largest retail shopping days of the year are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving. Will you need third-party warehousing for surplus inventory and product returns? And are you prepared to ship returned inventory? Did you know you can save money by consolidating truckloads to and from single warehouses? A good Freight Agent can help with all of the above.
Expect the unexpected. Delays are more common during the peak season, and so are cargo thefts. If you’re shipping from overseas, there will be more congestion at the ports; so, it’s likely customs exams, drayage (that is, trucking from one port to another port, from a port to the rail head, or to the final destination) and delivery fulfillment will take more time than usual.
Now, also consider that when shipping volumes increase so substantially, so do thefts. Security consulting firm, FreightWatch International, reports that holiday weekends, in particular, are at great risk for cargo theft. There are multiple reasons for this, including organized theft rings taking advantage of unattended shipments, fictitious pick-ups, and the hiring of unvetted seasonal help.
3PLs anticipate these instances and advise and advocate for you in their event. First, they’ll help you prepare for the customs process and paperwork and help you plan for delays. Second, they’ll provide you with cargo insurance options and help you purchase it, hassle-free. Finally, you can be secure in the fact that 3PLs have already invested in carriers they know they can trust, making any adverse events significantly less likely.
Final thoughts: According to Deloitte, online shopping continues to take foot traffic away from traditional brick-and-mortar venues, putting a higher demand on shipping. And for more than 70 percent of consumers, “free shipping” tops the list of factors when choosing an online retailer. Bear in mind that shipping prices increase with demand, and if you offer free shipping, consider how to build that in to your retail costs.
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