Peak shipping season spikes highest during the winter holidays and around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, requiring shippers to have a strategy in place to contend with the chaos. In order to be better prepared, shippers can verify their cutoff dates, get cargo insurance, give themselves enough time to maintain flexibility, and manage their highest priority loads first.
Peak shipping season can create stress, and the nature of the time means that it's ripe for catastrophes, disruptions, and delays—all of which can be detrimental to your business's bottom line. However, with a good strategy in place, many of the burdens of peak shipping seasons can be managed with far less stress and risk with results that include happier customers and fuller business bank accounts. Learning how to develop a strategy for peak shipping season means understanding the whens, whys, and hows of these busy times all the while looking to the past and present in order to gain insight into upcoming trends so your business can be at its most prepared.
For example, it is important for shippers to understand that rates are volatile during peak shipping season and that cargo theft is a definite possibility. In terms of trends, false or fictitious pickups are occurring more often, so shippers should be wary, especially if they are transporting retail goods like clothes and electronics during these times.
There is a bump in retail sales—and shipping—preceding major holiday seasons and buying times. This includes both a shipping peak for the retail goods bought by consumers, presumably in preparation for gift-giving during these holiday seasons. There is a similar peak that comes befoe this retail peak as supply chain goods are transported in order to prepare for the manufacture of these retails goods consumers will buy as gifts. The bulk of peak shipping season lasts from late summer through mid-fall on the supply chain side, with the retail side picking up around mid-fall through early winter.
One important factor to note about peak shipping season is Golden Week, a national holiday in China that closes factories and halts production during this prime time of shipping. China actually has three Golden Weeks—one near National Day, which occurs around the beginning of October, one around the beginning of May, and one surrounding the Lunar New Year in January or February. These shutdowns can cause major impacts to the supply chain during the peak shipping season, so it is important to be mindful in advance.
In late November, on the day after Thanksgiving as well as the following Monday, many retailers heavily discount in-demand goods such as consumer electronics. These are the biggest online shopping days of the year. In 2018, there were $6.22 billion in e-commerce sales on Black Friday and $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday.
In late December, many religious sects practice their holiday traditions, many of which involve gift-giving. During Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, and the like, shipping is impacted not only by a sharp uptick in sales but also, very often, inclement weather conditions due to sleet, snow, and other wintertime weather threats.
A good strategy can help your business flow smoothly through peak shipping season. Below are a few things you can do to prepare for the chaos of peak shipping season:
As mentioned previously, cargo theft is a major problem during peak shipping season, and even includes the theft of full truckloads (FTL). Similarly, with everyone working at or above capacity, cargo can become damaged through speed and negligence. Similarly, weather conditions may result in some loss of cargo due to shipping accidents and the like. Be sure to insure your cargo to help mitigate the risks associated with these losses.
Especially if you ship with Amazon, know when your cutoff dates are for each season and prepare for them in advance. Amazon announces their cutoff dates for each year and each season, so be sure to have your products ready and available before these times.
If you are prepared in advance with a solid strategy for peak shipping season, this gives you the opportunity to be more flexible. You are able to opt for slower, cheaper, or less risky transport options. You can split your shipments to reduce the impact of potential theft or delays. Thinking about peak shipping season strategies may help bring success in terms of your overal supply chain KPIs. Inclement weather will not become a business catastrophe. Give yourself enough time and leeway to keep your options open.
Some goods you need to ship may be more important than others, and you should treat them as such. Give priority to your most important goods and account for those first. This top-down priority approach is less likely to leave your business reeling when everything has been taken care of except priority number one.
Does your business have a fully fleshed-out strategy for dealing with peak shipping season? Become prepared and gain an edge over your competition by planning and strategizing with us at ShipERP. With us, you can achieve a better, more effective shipping operation during peak season and beyond. Chat with us today to find out how we can help.