In 2020, online spending increased 22% on Black Friday, as the pandemic forced many people to shop from the comfort of their own couch. Even as restrictions have eased and brick-and-mortar stores have reopened, consumers plan to do most of their shopping online.
As they do so, shoppers will prioritize retailers that offer timely shipping, but many are still playing catch up on depleted inventory while dealing with high consumer demand.
With limited vessel space and container availability, retailers and carriers alike are feeling ill-prepared for the reality that is peak season. If the last few months are any depiction of what’s to come, sales won’t be slowing down any time soon, so it’s pertinent to find a reliable logistics provider as soon as possible to get items where they need to go.
You can reference these tips to best prepare for the shipping challenges that come with peak season.
Be Agile and Plan Ahead
In the past, peak season typically fell between August and October, but the past few months have shown that there may no longer be just a peak season during this timeframe, but rather a continuous peak throughout the year.
Despite this change, it’s important for importers to plan ahead for seasonal events like Black Friday to ensure cargo arrives on time. If you prepare correctly, these seasonal events can be a great way to grow your business and expand into new markets. Failure to do so, however, will leave you with unhappy customers and suppliers.
The best piece of advice we can give importers is to plan ahead. These tips can help you prepare:
Anticipate lead time. Scalability will determine your success this peak season, so anticipate lead time from your suppliers. You’ll want to make sure you have enough inventory to ship in the first place, as these issues will impact on-time delivery. Importers must plan to mitigate these circumstances now.
Expand your network. You know the saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” Well, it’s true. You want to build a bullet-proof supply chain of partners that grant you the agility and flexibility to navigate the stressors of peak season with ease. Expanding to a global distribution network can deepen your shipping capabilities. For instance, regional carriers may assist you in niche markets. Express carriers can move items quicker.
Diversify shipping methods. While it can be more expensive, air freight is faster and safer than ocean freight. With air freight, your shipments can travel to and from anywhere there is an airport, making it a more agile transportation solution than ocean freight. In the height of peak season, diversifying your shipping methods can ensure the speed and safety of your parcels with less risk of delays.
Batch ship items. If you ship a large volume of the same items, consider batch shipping to save you and your customer time and money. If there are items that are relatively the same package weight and size, you can batch ship those, too.
Prepare duties and taxes. Remember, your goods need to clear customs in the country of destination. Importers should prepare duties and taxes ahead of time. Hiring a qualified custom broker that can prepare these documents for you can lessen the likelihood of penalties.
A global logistics provider like IBC that offers in-house customs brokerage services can transport and clear your shipments quickly and effectively. IBC manages CFS (Container Freight Stations) facilities, specializing in 321 Clearance and Type 86 Clearance at five U.S. locations, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. These main gateways provide faster transportation solutions to help importers avoid delays.
Audit Your Logistics Provider
When importing goods, how does your provider stack up? Have you reached out to them yet to book space for the busy season?
When demand exceeds capacity, carriers increase rates to guarantee space. With more importers trying to get space leading up to the start of the school year and holiday season, expect to pay a surcharge when calculating the total cost of shipping.
As with many of the major integrators over capacity to support any new customers at all, it leaves retailers with limited options. If you find yourself in this position, evaluate your logistics provider to see if there are better options. In a tight market, it may benefit you to diversify your shipping methods (air vs. ocean), consolidate freight (LCL vs FCL) or find a different solution (express vs. non-express) as mentioned above.
As the largest non-integrator operator of U.S. Customs and Border Protection ECCF (Express Customs Clearance Facilities) facilities in the U.S., IBC can be your global logistics provider for customized pick up, delivery and transportation solutions.
Our global distribution network is made up of more than 18 network hubs, 59 gateways, and 220 countries and territories, granting us flexibility to do what the larger integrators struggle with. So in the event of a disruption or delay, we have the agility to find a custom solution via air, ocean or land to ensure your shipments arrive on-time.
Over Communicate With Customers
Your customers expect you to meet their expectations regardless of the situation we’re currently in. To do that, it’s important to conduct business as usual–even when capacity is tight. Communicate early and often. Being transparent about the fact that your shipping carrier is experiencing an increase in package volume can minimize customer frustration.
You also have to keep in mind that there will always be last-minute shoppers. Over communicate with customers the importance of planning ahead–just like you are. Familiarizing yourself with peak shipping deadlines can help keep customers informed on whether their package will arrive on time or late instead of keeping them guessing.
Partner With IBC This Peak Season
To make sure your shipments arrive when and where you need them, contact the global logistics experts at IBC to navigate peak season challenges. Thanks to our global distribution network, we have the capability to customize solutions for your needs. That means, we can work with you to develop a shipping strategy that optimizes transportation routes and modes. For more information about your options, contact us today.