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Are You Ready for Peak Shipping Season?

Peak Shipping Season Graphic

EASE is here to equip you for the journey

In most industries, there are identifiable “seasons.” For logistics, these are: Quiet (January – March), Produce (April – July), Peak (August – October), and Holiday (November – December). The good news is that each season has predictable patterns of behavior and circumstance that can be identified and used for preparation.

Peak Shipping Season is rapidly approaching.

EASE wants to make sure you’re as ready as possible.

For the uninitiated, Peak Season is the intersection of various demand cycles in the retail market. The last of summer stock is being shuffled to discount retailers for quick sale, the swell of back-to-school merchandise coming in, and the stockpiling of holiday items to prepare for the gift-giving season. This swirl of increased activity can lead to great growth opportunities for your business. But it can also lead to strained capacity, higher costs, tighter delivery windows, and the ability to pivot at a moment’s notice. This year brings the added challenge of the lingering effects of COVID-19 disruptions — notably, high demand and shrinking capacity — that will certainly have a greater impact on Peak Shipping Season.

Ways to Ensure You’re Absolutely Ready for Peak Season

Nurture Your Relationships

It only makes sense that carriers would expand their circle during this time. But what about your existing relationships? Things are changing more rapidly than ever. You might find that a trusted partner with a specialized focus is planning to broaden its offerings. Suppliers dealing with unprecedented demand and backorders will need more patience and understanding. Additionally, a growing driver shortage is stretching the carrier side of the equation very thin. Instead of assuming you know what is happening in the industry or what might attract the best talent, take the time to actually reach out and have meaningful (or tough) conversations. They might be easier than you think, and, either way, you’re bound to learn something.

Refine Your Planning

While shipping cycles are predictable, so are the likelihood for mass disruptions (remember the Suez Canal incident that happened right in the middle of the pandemic). Having greater knowledge of your inventory and access to as much transparency in the supply chain as possible will keep you equipped when things go sideways. Look back at your experiences during Peak Season last year. What went wrong? What went right? What is likely to change as pandemic-era turmoil lessens? Maybe utilizing more split shipments is the best way to go this year. Are you sufficiently staffed, and are your systems properly equipped for a surge? A good Transportation Management System (TMS) can make a huge difference in the daily operation of your business. The ability to capture data through tracking — like timing, volume, and product mix — saves an enormous amount of time, energy (and, ultimately, money).

Study the Market

Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of patterns and trends in the market as they are happening. Waiting until the experts sort out what’s happening and thoughtfully craft their insight is not the answer. In the earliest days of COVID-19, those who were able to both identify a huge shift to e-commerce and were equipped to adjust accordingly fared well (or thrived) by minimizing disruption. What lingering effects of the pandemic do you think might be the most significant heading into Peak Season? Our own search has lead to the discovery of a shortage of shipping containers due to a continuing spike in e-commerce and growing concern of the impacts of accelerated climate change. Consider how these issues and more might impact your link in the supply chain and plan to adjust accordingly.

Consider a 3PL

There is a tendency in the industry to favor asset-based carriers. This is due, in part, to the unpredictable nature of logistics. Hundreds of details are constantly in flux, and that’s when everything is going smoothly. But it is situations like Peak Season surges where an exceptional 3PL can really shine. This is because the best of them are specifically positioned for save-the-day situations. Bad weather, breakdowns, and the sudden need for added loads or additional drivers are the norm when hauling freight. The best 3PLs can be counted on, again and again, to a natural extension of your operations team.

Peak Shipping Season will be here before you know it. EASE Logistics is committed to being the exclusive one-call-away partner you can trust when faced with uncertainty or an unexpected emergency. Our vast network of thoroughly vetted, action-ready carriers; state-of-the-art technology; and unparalleled customer service model makes EASE uniquely equipped for your urgent and specialized shipping needs.