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Discover three ways you should use your experience and data to inform this year’s peak season planning.

For many, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but for retailers, peak season can prove quite stressful. After surmounting last year’s challenges, which included limited carrier capacity, under-stocked inventories, and increasing transportation rates, taking a moment to breathe may sound appealing. At the risk of being a kill joy, however, we advise our clients NOT to step away from the pallets, so to speak. On the contrary, with freshly collected peak season data, now is the perfect time to prepare for peak season 2022.

In the post below, we’ll discover three ways you should use your experience and the data you collected during peak season 2021 to inform this year’s order fulfillment and logistics strategies.

1. Expect Supply Chain Disruptions

It’s no secret, carriers across the globe have experienced significant setbacks because of COVID-19. And with the spread of the Omicron variant, the pandemic is proving it will continue to impact the shipping industry for some time to come. Already, major carriers like FedEx and USPS have faced a new wave of staffing shortages, which will again affect capacity and cause shipping delays. And we’re not even out of January!

In our opinion, it’s best to stop treating these hiccups as “disruptions” and instead consider them “the new normal.” To function optimally in this new normal, we advise looking at peak season data from 2021 and asking yourself critical questions, such as:

  • Were there delays you could have prevented if you had more carriers?
  • Did you incur unnecessary charges due to improper labeling?
  • Did you have the order fulfillment workflow flexibility you needed to handle unexpected disruptions and execute ship-from-store, ship-to-store for BOPIS or BOPIC, etc.?

Your answer to these types of questions may indicate you could benefit from parcel shipping technology to infuse agility into your order fulfillment operations and offset supply chain challenges.

2. Create a Multi-Carrier Strategy

Given the complexities and operational strain of high volume, global parcel shipping, relying on a single carrier is becoming obsolete. During last year’s peak season, we saw many unprepared shippers turn to the United States Postal Service (USPS) as a fallback option to get their products out the door in time.

Shippers should instead lean on a diverse network of carriers to avoid bottlenecks and maximize their capacity resources. Again, using parcel shipping technology can help. The goal of parcel shipping software is to help organizations ship high volumes of parcels quickly while decreasing transportation costs by making it easy to quickly onboard, leverage, and optimize multiple carrier services, including regional and last-mile providers.

Good warehouse management software, when integrated with parcel shipping software, will measure shipment volumes against carrier capacity thresholds and automatically help businesses manage their carrier capacity and optimize their shipping strategies – essentially maximizing capacity utilization to minimize transportation spend. Furthermore, by understanding how much product can ship with each contracted carrier at one time, shippers can also communicate accurate lead times and manage shipping expectations with their customers.

But a multi-carrier strategy isn’t the only way to solve this issue.

Many retailers have begun reexamining their retail footprint from new perspectives. No longer considering only ship-from-store to offset carrier capacity constraints, several retailers found other ways to leverage stores to reduce demand for traditional carrier services. First and foremost, retailers have begun to not just offer services like buy online, pickup instore (BOPIS) and curbside pickup, but to also  incentivize consumers to choose these fulfillment options. Belk, Petco, Target, and Walmart were among the first to offer customers discounts for picking up orders, but carrier capacity constraints have helped the concept catch on with others.

eBook - eBook Peak Season Parcel Shipping Thrival Guide

3. Plan for Damage Control

No matter how smoothly your organization runs during peak season, you should always be prepared for a disruption of some kind. Whether there is a period of extreme weather, a warehouse fire, power outages, or some other unforeseen event, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have the necessary flexibility to quickly execute contingency plans and proactively communicate with customers when things go wrong.

To meet this requirement, companies need a Control Tower. A Control Tower for parcel is unique because it “reacts” to the information it receives. Much like an airport control tower, which receives signal, GPS, location, and speed data that enables good decision-making, the Control Tower for parcel knows that when an order is placed, the warehouse is stocked and ready to ship the goods to a customer. It also knows the order is ready for parcel carrier pick-up – the point at which it appears on the customer’s radar (usually in the form of a tracking number).

In the event of a delivery delay, the Control Tower can flag the event, which gives the shipper the opportunity to communicate with the customer and make good. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker. Or perhaps the shipper is willing to offer a discount on the customer’s next order. Customers will pay attention to how you handle mishaps and communicating clearly and openly about any delivery delays will affirm their trust in your brand.

Count on Smooth, Successful Parcel Shipping

Preparing for peak season can be a challenge no matter your industry expertise. Logistyx can help you manage carrier capacity, navigate supply chain disruptions, and ensure smooth parcel shipping through peak season 2022 and beyond. Contact our team to see how our solution can best serve you.