Peak shipping season starts in mid-August and stretches to the end of autumn, usually until Thanksgiving. Peak shipping season occurs because of increased demand across many markets during these months. It is prime time for retail season. Also, businesses start stocking up for the upcoming holiday season, there is back-to-school shopping, and general retailers try to clear their inventories from the summer season. During this peak time, freight rates are at their highest and the capacity is tight.
Even the most efficient supply chains may struggle to find trucking capacity or see increased freight rates during the peak shipping season. Online and brick-and-mortar companies must keep up with the demand of orders coming in, and carriers must make sure that each package is delivered smoothly.
During this surge, the demand grows and supply lowers, which causes tight capacity, high freight rates, and a headache for the retail and logistics industry. However, this is an annual occurrence, so carriers and companies can prepare for these conditions in advance. Every year, regardless of the trends, advanced planning and consolidation will help you navigate the tough season.
There is no strict date when the peak season of freight begins. Each year, it’s slightly different, and the beginning of the season depends on various factors. For example, in 2019, the rush started earlier than expected because of the tensions between China and the U.S. Retailers were afraid of transportation difficulties and delays. The season started a couple of months earlier than usual.
In recent years, there have been several trends that have reshaped the flow of the season. eCommerce, brick-and-mortar, the growth of the retail industry impact, and current world trade problems affect supply and demand.
Rising demand often increases carrier rates. In response, companies usually increase labor costs and shippers secure capacity in advance. Besides these listed, a couple of other factors can affect your supply chain during the peak season.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many brick-and-mortar stores saw devastating impacts to their peak season sales. The demand for online shopping continues to increase even though many consumers feel safe returning to stores. Due to the increase in online shopping, carriers tend to get overloaded with items. This causes significant shipping delays. Even though no one was expecting the pandemic’s impact on the supply chain, understanding the carrier process can help prepare for future market conditions.
Modern customers expect to know of any delays or issues receiving their packages. Sometimes delays can’t be avoided, so it’s essential that you communicate to the customers on when they should be expecting their items. Since the peak shipping season precedes the holidays, companies have order and shipping deadlines to meet to gain and nurture existing customer loyalty. Always communicate with your customers about when those deadlines are. In addition, inventory levels change constantly. When an item is out of stock, ensure that you clearly mark that on the website to prevent backorders.
As well as communicating with your customers, you should also be in touch with your suppliers. The holiday season is busy, so it’s crucial that you share any order volume ahead of time to avoid getting behind on orders. Especially with the busy season, some companies look to expand their manufacturer mix if the primary ones are unavailable. Having a backup allows for the risks during the busy season to decrease—factor in everything that will help you with your company and suppliers during the peak season.
Your business needs to ship early to prepare for the peak shipping season. The movement of freight during the lead up to the holiday season doesn’t stop, so you must be prepared and on top of your game to deal with the high volume of shipments. In addition, the high volume of shipments could cause delays in docks and warehouses, leading to backup and congestion. When you ship as early as possible, you give yourself enough time for items to get delivered on time to customers.
Every shipping company has its own shipping needs. Small businesses, for example, can utilize less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping for their shipments to help ensure on-time delivery while helping lower shipping costs. More prominent companies with larger shipping volumes can consider different shipping modes, like FTL and intermodal, to help handle their shipments before the holiday season. No matter your business size, it’s essential to have a plan for what shipping you’ll utilize.
During the peak shipping season, it’s essential that you plan and know what you’re doing for the year. Data is your friend and will help you use different promotions and influxes in demand. Even though planning ahead is not always perfect, it’s still better than being unprepared during the busy shipping season.
The process of deciding what 3PL to partner with is essential. You want to ensure that they have adequate experience, especially during the peak shipping season. When you partner with a company that’s not experienced in the peak season, it can cause major setbacks in the entire shipping process. To avoid this, make sure you do your research and pick what 3PL is best for you.
PLS Logistics Services is a company experienced in navigating the struggles of peak shipping season. We provide visibility into your supply chain and will help you through the process. We also want you to have a smooth shipping season and ensure everyone is satisfied. We can help you during the craziness that comes with the busy shipping! Start by using our online form to Get a Freight Quote, today!