The disruption of the last 12 months has shaken up the logistics industry, causing port closures, shipping delays and inventory shortages. Many larger integrators are setting restrictions on logistics services, with some overcapacity to support any new customers at all.
No longer can e-commerce businesses wait around till Q4 to prepare for peak season anymore. Peak season is already underway, with many businesses feeling the pressure to ensure parcels and packets arrive on time.
Fortunately, it’s not too late. If you act now, there are ways to relieve the stressors that surround peak season. Below, we overview the current landscape of importing to the U.S., and identify ways in which you can tackle the busy months ahead.
What’s the current landscape of importing to the U.S.?
The volume of shipments, especially those related to e-commerce, accelerated in 2020 and have continued into 2021. Peaks previously seen only during the holidays have appeared throughout the year.
Air and truck volumes have increased. Ocean costs have skyrocketed. Rail service is constrained.
Keeping up with the demand has been difficult for carriers, as they only have so much capacity to handle such high volume of shipments. And some carriers have found increasing rates to be the best option to guarantee space.
Worse, inventory levels are low, making it difficult for retailers to get their products in the first place. Even after they manage to get their inventory, they’re still competing for space with other shippers who are paying higher rates than ever.
So, what can you do to avoid delays and disruptions?
With limited vessel space and container availability, take these steps to keep your logistics moving and your business running as key seasonal events loom around the corner.
Planning your shipments and partnering with carriers now to accommodate for delays is the single most important step you can take to get through peak season. On top of that, if you can be flexible with the mode of transportation and type of container, that will give you a better chance at finding availability for shipments.
For example, shipping by ocean offers more competitive rates, but air has the benefit of quicker transit times. Figure out which is more important to your business and book well in advance.
Furthermore, you may be able to save on shipping costs with less-than-container load (LCL) or full-container load (FCL). LCL allows you to share container space with other shippers rather than use an entire shipping container with FCL. By diversifying your shipping methods and container options, you can sell faster and replenish quicker.
Contact Your Suppliers and Carriers
With limited capacity, it’s critical for you to contact your suppliers and carriers ahead of time. If you rely on importing solely, be proactive with your communications, making sure to set expectations per your contract.
One cause for delays once your goods have reached their destination country is customs clearance. Hiring an end-to-end global logistics provider with customs brokers on-site at major ports can help you avoid charges and penalties. A customs broker can also help importers prepare documentation ahead of time, and pay duties and taxes upon arrival to keep your shipments moving.
Our global distribution network consists of over 18 hubs, 59 gateways, and 220 countries and territories, meaning we can handle a high volume of shipments and have the agility to deliver where and when others can’t. We’re the largest non-integrator operator of U.S. Customs and Border Protection ECCF (Express Consignment CarrierFacilities) facilities in the U.S. We operate CFS (Container Freight Station) facilities, specializing in Section 321 Clearance and Type 86 clearance at five U.S. locations in:
If you’re feeling ill-prepared for peak season, let IBC help. We offer a suite of global logistics services to optimize your supply chain, and can create custom solutions that meet the needs of your business during peak season and beyond. We can help you succeed during the most challenging season 2021 has to offer. To partner with the experts at IBC, contact us today.