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Year in Review: How a 3PL Helps You Learn from Successes and Challenges

Year in Review: How a 3PL Helps You Learn from Successes and Challenges

Learn how the perfect third party logistics partner can assist your year-end shipping review and provide you with invaluable and actionable insights.
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New Year, New Shipping Strategies: 6 Ways to Start Strong in 2023

The flipping of the calendar to a new year is always a great chance for reviews, reassessments and resolutions. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your shipping strategies and give them a polish and an upgrade.

Important questions to ask yourself at the edge of the new year include: "What about my current shipping strategies are working and what needs to be improved or added? " and "What are the top shipping solutions my customers need from me? "

In a recent post, we talked about the best ways to conduct a year-end review to identify the challenges and successes of your small or mid-sized business (SMB) shipping over the last year. Now it's time to take those findings, combine them with foreseeable trends in the logistics industry, and convert them into powerful shipping solutions.

Ready to start 2023 stronger than ever? Read on for our top six ways to update your shipping strategy for the new year!

1. Perform a guided year-end review

This is a crucial first step, as mentioned above. If you haven't done it yet it, a review should be undertaken before you dive into the rest of your new shipping strategy. After all, you can't prepare for the future if you haven't learned from the past!

The best way to approach a year-end review is with guidance and support from an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) provider . You want to have the assistance of a 3PL who understands the challenges that are unique to small business shipping and can offer insights and solutions.

Once you've conducted your review, you'll have a good understanding of the people and processes that are making positive contributions to your shipping operations, as well as the areas that need improvement. These insights are golden and should form the basis of your shipping strategy going forward.

2. Get your costs under control

Elevated inflation hasn't been tamed just yet, so you need to bake cost controls into your 2023 shipping strategies. Some great ways to reign in unnecessary spending are:

  • Avoiding unnecessary fees. Take a few moments to correctly enter vital information such as weight and class during the quote stage of every shipment. A few extra minutes can save you a lot of extra dollars in avoidable fees for reweighs and reclassification.
  • Evaluating the speeds and carriers you're using. Are you paying for faster delivery times than your customers require or expect? Should you consider other carriers besides the ones you are accustomed to so that you have access to more shipping options?
  • Right-sizing your package prep. Avoid the temptation to save a few pennies by reusing boxes or pallets for your freight. You'll lose far more money dealing with lost or damaged items that weren't packaged sturdily enough. Make sure you are also always using the right-sized pallet for your packages, as larger dimensions will cost you more even if the items could fit onto a smaller container, as well as reduce the number of boxes you can fit onto a pallet.
  • Protecting your profits through insurance. You can eliminate the financial burden and inconvenience of replacement products and parts by adding cost-efficient shipping insurance to your shipments.

3. Plan on perpetual peak season

Once upon a time, the cold months of the year around the holidays were considered to be peak shipping season, with a predictable fluctuations  in volumes the other nine months of the year.

No more. The last few years have seen the seasonal shipping cycle upended, and now we're just left with the busy season and the busiest season. What this means for your shipping strategy is that you need to build more time into your processes wherever possible to account for increased shipping volume throughout the year. Carrier capacity is not a given, and you should make sure you keep a good relationship with your preferred freight carriers by paying your invoices on time and avoiding last-minute changes and cancellations whenever possible.

In addition, just-in-time shipments may have squeaked by in the past, but smart shippers look for ways to plan ahead. Stay well-stocked on the packaging items you regularly run through, and make sure you're setting realistic delivery timelines with your customers and communicating throughout the shipping process.

4. Look into going greener

There's an ongoing and increasing push in the freight industry to counteract waste and improve efficiency and sustainability, especially when it comes to smaller shipments. Consider consolidating your shipments into full truckloads (FTL) to reduce your overall number of less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments. Condensing your freight is good for the environment and your budget.

Other ways to incorporate a greener mindset into your freight shipping strategy include using nature-friendly shipping boxes and going digital with your shipping paperwork.

5. Shore up your supply chain

Having done a deep dive into your supply chain as part of your year-end review, you're ready to see where you're doing well and where there's room for improvement.

Common areas where freight supply chains can be tightened up as part of an overall shipping strategy include:

  • Improving transparency and overall communications with your supply chain. Plan to proactively inform your team if any potential disruptions arise, and set expectations and backup plans in case unexpected issues do occur.
  • Considering an investment in technology such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) trackers. These tools eliminate the need for inventory hand scans and the errors that often creep into that process, along with better insights into your inventory.
  • Redesigning or rearranging your warehousing and work areas for better efficiency and maneuvering for your team members, as well as reducing clutter or places where important items can "sneak off to. "

6. Make sure you partner with the right 3PL

All the planning and strategizing in the world will be for naught if they don't align with the unique needs and challenges of your SMB. Partnering with the right 3PL is the final piece in the puzzle when it comes to perfecting your shipping plan.

Unishippers has provided customized and personalized shipping solutions for tens of thousands of SMBs across the country. Our team of shipping experts excel at assessing our customers' shipping operations from top to bottom and assisting them in the development of unbeatable shipping strategies. We understand small business challenges because we are a collection of franchisee-owned small businesses. Let the Unishippers pros help you make 2023 a year of unprecedented shipping success!