2021 was a wild year for shipping, but the ride’s not over just yet. Ongoing supply chain issues are creating huge challenges for parcel shipping. For instance, with the rise of e-commerce, consumers are buying more but expecting faster delivery, as well as returning more items. On top of that, the long-trusted strategy of just-in-time inventory is being put to the test and suppliers can’t keep up with product demand. Cargo space is in huge demand while driver shortages are at an all-time high. All of this is driving shipping prices up and small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) scrambling to find shipping carriers to deliver their goods.
It sounds like a lot and it is. What’s an SMB to do? Don’t worry, we’ve got you! These shipping trends present some challenges, but also some tremendous opportunities if you’re armed with the right know-how and partners.
We’re here to help you make the most of this challenging situation. Here are the top 6 trends of 2022 for parcel shipping, and our recommendations for coping and conquering.
Trend 1: “Just-in-time” can now often mean “out of time”
Just-in-time (JIT) supply chain management has been the staple for inventory optimization for decades. It keeps inventories lower and profitability higher. In the wake of the pandemic, however, the just-in-time inventory process turned into a not-even-close inventory problem. SMBs are scrambling to meet demand and deal with warehouse space issues, causing big restructuring to supply chain management.
It can be a smart idea to replace your centrally located storage facility with multiple micro-warehouses that are closer to your customers. Through a third-party logistics (3PL) provider like Unishippers, you can leverage a sophisticated transportation management system (TMS) to tie together shipping operations at all your facilities. This will give you a beautiful, bird’s eye view of your total supply chain operations, as well as the on-demand expertise from Unishippers shipping pros.
Trend 2: Inflation is inching upward
Inflation has been something that SMBs and consumers hadn’t really worried about for a long time. It’s come roaring back in 2022, however, and some experts believe it will last well into next year. One of the core causes of this round of inflation is ongoing issues with the supply chain. The painful pinch of inflation is being felt by both SMBs and their customers, as costs are rising for everyone.
There is good news from a shipping perspective, though. Higher consumer prices may slow consumption, which will eventually help bring shipping prices down. As you wait out the worst of inflation’s sting, it’s a great time to reevaluate your parcel shipping spend and send habits. Scrutinize which services you absolutely need to satisfy your customers and which ones can be pulled back. The team of shipping experts at Unishippers is happy to provide a complimentary, no-commitment assessment of all your shipping processes.
Trend 3: Peak season is becoming all-season
Not so long ago, the final quarter of the year was considered to be peak shipping seasons, and SMBs had the first few months of the new year to recuperate. With a tumultuous supply chain and all sorts of ongoing shortages, peak season is becoming a year-round phenomenon. Consumer spending will continue to rise in 2022, even with higher price tags on most products. And the trend of holiday shopping in July will only get stronger.
Wise shippers are adjusting to peak season proliferation with proactivity. Evaluate your peak shipping prep calendar for 2022, and don’t wait until the fall to review your parcel shipping services. A trusted 3PL partner like Unishippers can also help you create a shipping strategy, forecast peak pricing and plan for capacity issues.
Trend 4: E-commerce is accelerating
A surge in ordering from home has followed the surge in working from home. This boom in e-commerce was likely inevitable, but has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic. Accompanying the rise in online shopping are inventory shortages, increased returns and trickier shipment management.
Smart SMBs are adapting their business strategies to embrace this new consumer habit. From improving the online shopping experience of your website to refining your returns process, there are many ways you can embrace e-commerce as an exciting way to build your business. Unishippers offers seamless e-commerce solutions to help you streamline and simplify your operations. Reach out to us to learn how you can organize your e-commerce shipping and get the best rates possible.
Trend 5: Reverse logistics on the rise
With increased online shopping comes a not-so-fun trend: higher rates of returns. In 2021, shoppers were expected to return 30 to 40 percent of their online purchases, and that trend isn’t expected to slow down in 2022. If you sell to big box retailers or other resellers, you’ll likely see returns making their way back to you in their reverse logistics process. And in your B2B transactions, you may receive items returned for repair or refurbishing.
The solution here is to create or improve your own reverse logistics strategy. The experts at Unishippers can help you identify the lifecycle of your products and determine where the value lies each step of the way. Many SMBs are surprised at how much money they can squeeze out of their returned products!
Trend 6: 3PLs become more vital than ever
When the logistics industry is hit hard, logistics gets smarter. In 2022, you can expect autonomous package processing from 3PL providers to help shippers accurately choose right-size packaging for their products. Algorithms from 3PLs also help SMBs obtain the most accurate and competitive quotes. These innovations are particularly useful to businesses with growing e-commerce shipping and activity.
There’s an easy way to take advantage of the power and partnership of the best 3PLs: just ask! The shipping pros at Unishippers are eager to demonstrate how our TMS technology can bring efficiency and cost-savings to your business. Guesswork, weight issues, insurance concerns, and unnecessary surcharges can become a thing of the past!
2022 is the time to power up your parcel shipping
No one can predict how long supply chain issues will last. The best way to cope with these ongoing trends is to be smarter, more proactive and get the right 3PL partner in your corner.
In unpredictable times, the rock-solid reliability of a 3PL partner like Unishippers is worth its weight in gold. Shipping trends come and go, but our pledge to be your around-the-clock trusted shipping advisor will never change.
Reach out for your free, top-to-bottom shipping consultation today, and set your SMB up for success through 2022 and beyond!
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