It’s Time to Evaluate Your Peak Shipping Strategy
Now that 2022 is here and you’ve made it through the holiday season, aka “peak”, it’s time to evaluate your shipping strategy. Start by answering some simple questions. Did you lose money during peak due to shipping costs or unhappy customers? What trends and patterns affected your business the most during peak? Were there steps in your shipping processes that helped or hindered getting items to your customers? What steps need to be adjusted for next year?
According to iDrive Logistics, performance issues, capacity constraints and harsh rate increases forced clients of UPS and FedEx to look at other shipping options. Regional carriers are a smart option to consider. They offer expanded capacity, flexible delivery options and competitive rates. If you haven’t used regional carriers in the past, it’s important to consider them, especially during peak. Having a strong, shipping partner in place, or better yet, multiple shipping partners, is key to thriving during peak season. Now’s the time to get those new shipping partners place! Note that many regional carriers won’t take on new customers in the last quarter of the year.
Here are tips on preparing for next year’s peak shipping season:
Shop around for rates now.
Start your search for new shipping partners now. This allows time to find the right partner (or partners) suited for your business and exact shipping needs. It takes time to integrate and set up processes in order to be ready ahead of peak. Finding and negotiating the right rates early allows you time to find the most efficient and inexpensive carriers and lock in the best rates.
Add last year’s unexpected fees into this year’s budget.
Accessorial and surcharge fees always seem to sneak in somewhere and with recent peak seasons, carriers had leverage to pass more costs onto both shippers and customers. But now that those additional expenses are expected, and hopefully more stable, retailers are better able to include these fees in their budgets and possibly look into shipping with carriers offering optimized contracts and lower fees.
Analyze your data for future improvements.
Pull your data together so you can analyze it to get the best use for future planning. Make notes on trends you noticed over the past two years and where they’re likely leading you next year. Those numbers and trends will need to be shared with potential new carriers. Having the best data will allow them to formulate the right shipping plan for your specific business needs and ultimately deliver happiness for your customers.
Identify and resolve issues in internal software.
Be sure your internal software programs are updated and any glitches identified and adjusted from peak. Check that your transportation management system (TMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) is up to date and fully integrated with each other. They will be used to evaluate rate data, determine realistic goals for next peak, and share information with other stakeholders. And at some point, these programs will likely be connected with your carrier’s software to automate the actual shipping process. Linking the automation process between retailers and carriers is important to maintaining customer demand for transparency and allow for real-time delivery monitoring.
Review your retail space, warehousing and distribution locations.
Take a stroll through your entire retail space and see how it can be better used. With the growth of the “ship to store” option, any storage or additional spaces were likely full to overflowing through peak. Is there a way to expand your current space or redesign it to better fit inventory so your product is more organized and easily accessible at all times? Could more items be moved and kept in the main shopping area? Check if your offsite warehouse space and/or distribution buildings are efficiently located to best accommodate where the majority of your customers are. Are they nearby and easily accessible to you and your shipping partners? Do you need more space to accommodate growth and build inventory ahead of peak?
Strengthen BOPIS fulfillment.
Back in 2020, Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) instantly became a primary channel for customers to pick up purchases. Continuing to commit and invest in this option is key. Now’s the time to further build out and improve curbside pickup areas and secure BOPIS infrastructures, like portable, handheld POS systems, enhanced click-and-collect fulfillment strategies, and also offering promotions that specifically target this demographic of shoppers. While some retailers have naturally migrated back to traditional brick-and-mortar shopping and others have spent more heavily on e-commerce, BOPIS is a middle ground that consumers are now used to and will continue to take advantage of.
As you look for potential regional carriers to partner with in 2022, consider Express Courier. We provide a variety of delivery options. With 26 branch locations in eight states, we reach 11 million people across the Southeast. Request a Free Quote today to get started.