2018 has been a historic year of changes in the shipping industry. Most businesses have been feeling the effects of the capacity crunch through increased shipping rates and delayed shipments. Meanwhile, the ELD mandate, new tariffs and trade agreements and major natural disasters have kept shippers on their toes. Pressure will intensify as we head into the holidays, with peak season surcharges, a rush of orders and more weather-related delays on the horizon.
Your Holiday Shipping Checklist
It can be difficult to navigate all of the changes in the industry at any time of the year, but managing shipping can be especially challenging during the holiday peak shipping season. Follow these tips to ensure a seamless, successful peak shipping season.
- Set Realistic Expectations for Customers: During peak season, be as transparent as possible with your customers. Set realistic expectations on delivery times for orders. Troubleshoot any delayed, damaged or lost shipments, providing regular updates on an estimated solution.
- Clearly Label Your Packages: You should be doing this year-round, but especially during peak season it is crucial to properly label both your freight and express shipments to ensure packages get where they need to go without delay.
- Be Diligent with Scheduling: Keep in mind there are fewer business days during the holiday season, which means transit times may increase and service guarantees are often suspended. Plan ahead as much as you can to help avoid delays.
- Plan Accordingly for Complex Orders: Time-sensitive merchandise such as food or medical supplies require more care and attention, so ensure all paperwork and labels reflect the priority of your shipment. You may also consider contacting your carrier representative to reiterate your shipment’s time sensitivity.
- Add Insurance to Your Shipment: Tightened shipping capacity during peak season makes it more likely for your shipment to be lost or delayed—which means properly insuring your shipments can make or break your holiday season. Should a shipment be lost or damaged, shipment insurance allows you to more easily file a claim and makes it more likely you’ll recover the loss.
A Trusted 3PL Can Help
While it can be difficult to navigate all of the changes in the shipping industry, the good news is you don’t have to do it alone. A 3PL can act as an expert shipping consultant for your business, providing insights and industry knowledge to help you survive peak shipping season. As your shipping advocate, your 3PL partner will be there when an issue arises and can work to resolve it on your behalf.
Working with a 3PL also provides the following benefits:
- Significant savings through leveraging the combined shipping volume of their customers
- Access to multiple freight carrier options to help you get your shipment where it needs to go
- Tools and technology that help maximize efficiency and improve the shipping process. For example, you can use a TMS to find the most cost-effective shipping option and optimize transit times.
Make sure that your shipment schedule doesn’t go cold this holiday season by teaming up with a trusted partner like Unishippers.