No ecommerce holiday is as big as Christmas. Although, it might be accurate to say the Christmas season is bigger than anything. While a lot of gift giving happens on Christmas Day, the whole season includes holidays from other cultures and faiths, New Year's, Thanksgiving, and even Halloween to some degree. Being ready for holiday freight shipping is necessary for your business to take advantage of all of this. Effective communication, seasonal adjustments to your rates, and bracing for delays are all good ideas.
Holiday Shipping Tips for Business Owners
Long before you do holiday shopping on a personal level, you need to be ready as a business owner.
Predict Your Demand Correctly
You need to predict your demand properly, and that should happen well ahead of your 2022 shipping deadlines that often mark the finish line of all this activity. Many businesses start getting ready for their peak season sometime in September. You'll need to analyze two factors at first. One is the demand out there for your particular products.
The other is how your company performed during the holidays last year. You can measure this using specific metrics, such as overall revenue, total shipping costs, your best-selling products (and the worst), the cost for shipping each item, leading sales channels, and the busiest weeks and days.
Have Your Inventory Prepared
Preparing your inventory means you have enough on hand to avoid canceling customer orders because you ran out of stock. Also, make sure you have enough packaging supplies in advance. Your previous year's sales numbers should indicate how much to procure, but you also need to adjust based on the current demand forecast, ongoing trends, and marketing promotions. You also have to brace for supply chain disruptions. Stockpiling shipping supplies is easy since most major couriers offer free shipping boxes via their websites. Utilizing the right warehousing solutions can help you out with this immensely.
Automate Your Business
If you want to get ready for holiday delivery, then use the pre-season to test out shipping automation. Automated returns have become standardized enough that you can put these on autopilot within your own company. Continue the automation with post-purchase communications that include packing slips, tracking landing pages, and tracking emails to keep up your brand visibility and boost loyalty and sales. Make shipping faster by setting up rules-based preferences, such as returns, fulfillment, and courier selection. Always choose the cheapest rates you can; negotiate them if you can or use third-party shippers for discounts.
Be Ready to Manage Returns
Breaking sales records in December is a nice feeling. Dealing with record levels of returns in January isn't. Still, there are things you can do about it. For starters, do what you can to prevent returns in the first place. Be sure your size charts are as accurate as possible. Take lots of high-quality photos so consumers know what they're getting. Use customer reviews to help buyers make informed decisions.
For returns that do happen, make them as free and easy as possible. This is a chance to build brand loyalty through superior customer experience.
Consider Outsourcing Your Logistics to a 3PL Company
Outsourcing certain business operations to a third-party managed logistics provider can do a lot for your business during the busy holiday season. In fact, it can help any time of year. You'll delegate these operations to industry professionals who might be able to do it better, cheaper, and faster than you can inside your company.
Holidays Freight Shipping Tips for Customers
Christmas was a busy freight time for many businesses prior to the current era of supply chain disruptions. The right tips help you navigate this new reality.
Have All the Required Information Ready
Holiday shipping deadlines won't leave you much time. Make sure you have all requisite information ready to go when you need it to save time and speed things up. Required information isn't just shipping and delivery addresses. You also need to consider the weight and dimensions of your freight, particular loading instructions, any required shipping conditions, and accurate details for pickup and delivery. All of this is crucial to getting a timely shipment done safely and securely. Even before that, it's necessary to get an accurate shipping quote.
Be Ready for Delays
Holiday shipping delays are an unfortunate reality. They also happen for many different reasons, some of which you might be able to predict and others you can't. Inclement weather can shut things down at any time, but it might impact some regions of the country a lot more than others. Professionals taking time off because of the holidays is expected and can happen across the board. Pandemic spikes or just flu and cold outbreaks can mean a lot of people calling out sick. Every shipment should have at least two extra days built-in to account for all this.
Find Out What Schedules Freight Shipping Companies Have
If you're shipping on Christmas Eve, you're too late in most cases. You need to pay close attention to the details of shipper schedules and their days of availability. You might know their normal nuances the rest of the year, but anything in late November through early January can get tricky. Some freight shipping companies might run extra days to accommodate higher demand. Then again, they might also give their professionals more days off, such as the holidays themselves. Also, watch out for companies that give the day and before holidays off.
Pack Your Freight Correctly
Pack your freight right for the kind of freight commodity that you deal with. Use pallets to put your freight together. Stack the heaviest boxes at the bottom of each pallet, putting lighter boxes towards the top. Secure everything with shrink wrap around the perimeter of the pallet stack. Consider using straps for more stability. The holidays are a peak time for freight shipping, but they're also an opportunity to impress clients with your ability to get goods to them without damage or delay. Build your brand this way.
Choose the Right Shipping Option
Once you have freight ready to move, you need to find which freight shipping option will work best for you. Most American domestic freight is moved via truck. Even within truck shipping, however, there are various options you can pick from. Less-than-truckload or LTL shipping is a good choice for many small- or medium-sized companies. LTL shipments usually weigh from 150 up to 15,000 pounds and only need part of the trailer.
If you need the full trailer and are shipping over 15,000 pounds, then full truckload shipping is the way to go. FTL freight shipping can be faster since you get the whole truck. There's only one load and unload.
Partial truckload, or PTL, is typically for shipment over 5,000 pounds or with more than six total pallets. That doesn't usually fill a trailer, but it's bigger than a typical LTL shipment. An advantage of PTL is avoiding freight classification, so you save money.
Intermodal and multimodal shipping are two other options. Either one uses at least two different forms of transport. That's commonly truck and rail, but sea and air also count. Intermodal shipments often go long distances.
Two other forms of shipping to be aware of our intermodal and multimodal, which each involves using a combination of at least two forms of transport. The most common method involves both truck and rail, but any combination of modes would qualify, including by sea or by air.
Find a Good Carrier or a Freight Broker
If you have yet to try freight brokerage, then the holidays might be a great time to give it a go. A freight broker can be a middleman between carriers and shippers. They handle communication and make sure that the whole shipping process goes right from the time freight is picked up to the time it's delivered. You can even trust others to deal with picking routes and carriers and doing shipment tracking for you. The right freight broker can even save your business money over time.
Christmas shipping deadlines are not something your company can afford to miss. If you want to work with a freight shipping company that can help you get the most out of your seasonal shipments, then contact us for a holiday freight shipping quote.