With COVID-19 both disrupting supply chains worldwide and increasing e-commerce demand, retailers face an unprecedented peak season in 2020, including limited carrier capacity and extended delivery times. Recognizing the unique configuration of this year’s peak season, smart retailers planned ahead to get supply chain and logistics operations right to help improve the customer experience.
As healthcare and pharmaceutical companies ramp up efforts to ship critical supplies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic – such as PPE, ventilators, test kits, and the all-important vaccines – they can learn valuable lessons from retail shippers confronted with unique and urgent circumstances, including these four lessons to enhance their transportation strategies entering the critical new year.
1. Broaden Carrier Networks
The increase in online shopping in 2020 put a noticeable strain on the shipping industry going into peak season. To contend with mounting carrier capacity limitations and navigate potential shipping delays, many retailers broadened their carrier network by adding last-mile and regional carriers to the mix. Growing carrier networks helps introduce more options and capacity into parcel delivery strategies and boosts agility to improve customer service and fulfillment.
For healthcare shippers looking to deliver their vital products to customers on time, without damage, at minimal cost, and in the most efficient manner possible, a cloud multi-carrier shipping solution can help quickly onboard new carriers and assess new delivery modes. Cloud multi-carrier shipping software applications automatically determine the carrier providing the best rates to a particular region and according to the shipper’s business rules and ensures every shipment complies with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations.
2. Fortify Cross-Border Shipping
With online shopping allowing consumers to purchase goods from anywhere around the world, many retailers adjusted their transportation strategies to include global shipping capabilities, enabling them to quickly expand their global footprint to take advantage of the market opportunity.
Particularly for pharmaceutical companies involved in vaccine distribution, a global shipping strategy is critical for widely delivering inoculations, therapies, and equipment to various countries. As the world watches the vaccine rollout in the U.K. and prepares to tackle the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine in their own countries, healthcare shippers need to properly prepare for any logistical challenges to avoid causing long delays at their borders.
Seamless cross-border shipping starts with the right label. Logistyx’s cloud multi-carrier shipping solution ensures every parcel ships with the correct label and documentation, no matter the carrier, destination, or product, making it easier for healthcare and pharmaceutical shippers to effectively reach populations in need. By automatically generating accurate and complete labeling and documentation for every shipment, shippers can avoid delivery interruptions or unexpected delays at customs, saving time and money.
3. Stay Flexible with Increased Visibility
Consumers increasingly value delivery transparency, and many retailers rely on visibility into the parcel delivery journey to help strengthen customer relationships and build loyalty. This peak season, when carrier capacity is tight and shipping rates are high, supply chain execution has created more obstacles along that journey, but savvy retailers that adopted a multi-carrier shipping solution with Control Tower functionality can provide shoppers with the transparency they’ve come to expect. The software syncs and normalizes all shipment data across carriers and delivery destinations, so retailers can manage parcel delivery issues or “exception events,” as they arise, giving customer service teams the opportunity to proactively troubleshoot the exception event and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time.
There’s likely no more eagerly anticipated delivery than a vaccine for the pandemic that has fundamentally altered the way we live. Delays in vaccine distribution, or other critical supplies like test kits and ventilators, due to unforeseen exception events likely won’t be tolerated by healthcare workers and their patients anxiously awaiting a critical component of a return to normalcy, especially considering the exceptional conditions that must be maintained during cold storage of some vaccines. By relying on a multi-carrier shipping solution equipped with Control Tower capabilities, healthcare companies can monitor and navigate hazardous delays.
4. Implement a Returns Management Strategy
Returns are an inherent part of retail, especially among e-commerce shoppers who don’t get to handle their products before purchase. To ensure returns are simple for consumers and don’t cost an arm and leg for the company, retailers have started to employ more sophisticated returns management strategies. Some include return labels in the outbound shipment with all the correct information and shipping speed pre-determined and selected. Others include instructions for consumers to contact the returns department to verify the return and guide them through the process.
Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies must also prepare for returns. Vaccines packed in dry ice, for example, must include a return for the dry ice in a timely fashion, but with special HAZMAT restrictions. To ensure compliance, cost efficiency, and simplicity for the doctor or pharmacist receiving the vaccine shipment, the shipper should take a lesson from retailers and adopt a well-thought-out returns management strategy.
Contact us to learn more about how Logistyx helps simplify the complexity of parcel shipping for healthcare leaders, retailers, and others, even on a compressed timeline.