3 Steps to Prepare Your E-Commerce Business for the Holiday Shopping Season, Now!

Many retailers are already stocking up on inventory and exploring logistics solutions that include regional parcel carriers this holiday shopping season. The lingering effects of the pandemic will exacerbate the buying frenzy that typically begins in October and continues through the end of the year. But with a bit of planning, e-commerce businesses can fulfill orders and navigate their way to happy customers.

Ho, Ho, Oh No!

Supply chain experts around the globe are projecting an un-merry Christmas for some holiday shoppers. Shortages of clothing, footwear, electronics and toys are expected as COVID outbreaks force factory shutdowns. On top of manufacturing issues there appear to be some transportation challenges on the horizon. For example, two of the largest U.S. railroads recently restricted shipments from West Coast ports, creating a clog in distribution lanes. This could leave many store shelves empty and consumers franticly searching for gifts.

Supply chain delays are likely to raise prices, causing even more headaches for consumers. But now we’ve got surcharges and volume limits imposed by the big parcel carrier companies FedEx and UPS. The U.S. Postal Service also announced it will raise rates starting at the end of August. Supply chain consultants are getting peppered with questions from retailers about what they will and won’t be able to ship. Still, experts predict that U.S. holiday retail sales in 2021 will increase 2.7% over those in 2020, and e-commerce could account for more than 20% of those sales.   

Regional Carriers to the Rescue

To get ahead of these holiday shipping asperities and protect their bottom lines, many retailers are calling regional parcel carriers to the rescue. As the name implies, reginal carriers provide parcel delivery in segmented areas of the country. They can typically help companies get orders delivered faster and with more flexibility than FedEx and UPS. This of course depends on location, mode of transport, package dimensions and parcel volumes. By adding a regional carrier you’ll give your business more options when it comes to delivery times, parcel sizes and cost, plus you won’t be so relient on the big shippers who may not view you as a priority.

Companies that use regional parcel carriers typically map out zones to decide which orders should be taken by UPS or FedEx and which could be handled by a local delivery service. For example, a clothing company with a warehouse in Birmingham, may allocate all deliveries within 100 miles of their warehouse to be delivered by a regional carrier. That same carrier could also put orders on a line haul to Memphis where FedEx takes them. The point is that regional carriers, like Express Courier, can provide more flexibility for your delivery needs.

Three steps to prepare for the holiday rush

Here are three ways businesses can help avoid holiday shipping headaches.

  1. Start Stocking Up – Analyze inventory and develop sales projections much earlier than you did in 2020. Then, just like old St. Nick, check those projections twice and contact your suppliers to ensure they can fulfill your orders. Don’t wait and be unpleasantly surprised.
  2. Develop Shipping Objectives – Use order history to determine where most of your deliveries might be headed, how long it took them to get there and what you paid in shipping. Then create objectives like improving delivery times, lowering costs or increasing sales in an untapped market. Determine which regional carrier could help achieve your objective.
  3. Integrate ASAP – Waiting until October or November to reach out to a regional carrier could be too late. Instead, contact carriers in the markets where you predict you’ll need delivery help, and get integrations set up in advance. You’ll set yourself up with more options when the orders start rolling in instead of scrambling to figure out how you’re going to fulfill them.

Express Courier could be your e-commerce solution in the Southeast. We have 26 branches in eight states. Our expanding network includes more than 750 drivers, warehouses and distribution facilities. We offer everything the big carriers provide, including on-demand delivery, parcel tracking, photo verification, line hauls, sorting and final mile delivery. We’ve helped many businesses find more efficient and effective logistic solutions, and can do the same for you.

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