The chaos of retail peak season can be a beautiful mix of adrenaline and pressure, as holiday anticipation is in the air. But as the ripple effects of COVID-19 continue to linger in the retail industry, it is safe to assume that this year’s peak season will present some hurdles that manufacturers and retailers will need to navigate.
Thankfully, USPack offers solutions to these challenges. We understand that the pressure of this time of year has significantly grown since the pandemic, and we make it our priority to ease the strain off of our clients and take on some of the heavy lifting.
A Boom in Ecommerce Becomes a Delivery Battle
For nearly 30 years, home delivery has been steadily expanding. In the past 18 months, the space has seen an exponential boom, triggered by COVID-19 and the explosive growth of ecommerce. According to Digital Commerce 360, online retail sales increased 32.4% year over year in 2020, and were up 39% in the first quarter of 2021. Digital Commerce 360 estimates that the $105 billion increase in online revenue in 2020 accelerated ecommerce by two years.
Additionally, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2021 retail sales forecast, retail sales are estimated to reach a projected $4.33 to $4.4 trillion. Online sales, which are included in the total, are expected to grow between 18% and 23%, adding up to a projected $1.14 to $1.19 trillion.
This all sounds wonderful, except for a labor shortage that has caused a scarcity of drivers in the logistics and supply chain industries—and exacerbated problems such as port backlog and warehouse shelves waiting for product to, well, yes, travel the last mile. As peak season generates mass orders, these issues produce a domino effect, leading to longer delivery wait times and dissatisfied consumers.
Here are a few tips for brands and retailers to get ahead of this year’s holiday peak season.
Secure capacity—and communicate needs now.
As carrier capacity dwindles during peak season, it is imperative that you start securing your place now. Communication here is essential, both in securing capacity and in establishing a positive, collaborative relationship with key carriers. Communicating in advance about expected surges and declines in your freight volume can help carriers plan and prioritize your shipments; spreading your shipments out over a few weeks, whenever possible, can help as well. The earlier you communicate about upcoming shipments, the more likely you are to secure capacity—and lock in favorable rates.
Ensure warehouse space—and attractive rates.
Just like capacity, warehouse space fills up at light-speed during peak season. The USPack Distribution Cross Dock offers reduced storage costs, operational efficiency, and faster delivery turnaround. Our customers can also count on minimal damages and claims, as well as higher labor utilization and increased fill rates.
Increase service reliability with a multi-carrier network—while containing your costs.
Utilizing a multi-carrier network increases flexibility and availability—and can improve the customer experience and better meet your immediate needs. Many times, regional and local carriers are uniquely equipped to handle white glove deliveries and cater to specific service needs; many utilize Transportation Management Software (TMS) to provide shippers visibility into supply changes and transportation rates. Finally, large national shipping companies have dramatically increased their rates; in contrast, many regional and local carrier networks have contained their costs due to greater agility and lower overhead.
Diversify your vendor base—and get backups.
Working with a diverse list of suppliers gives you alternatives when you need backups, especially during this crucial season. For one thing, a pre-vetted list of vendors gives you a broad selection of inventory and distributor locations to choose from, providing a cushion for product stock and distribution flexibility. Additionally, if vendors know you have options, they may be inclined to offer lower price points or tighter delivery windows to help them stay ahead of their competition—and in turn, help to improve your ROI and bottom line. Finally, if one vendor falls short, you can turn to another on your roster, keeping clients and customers happy along the way.
Winning the Delivery Dilemma—and Customers’ Patronage
With the popularity of next- (or even same-) day shipping options, customer expectations are currently soaring. And because it’s easy for shoppers to shift their brand loyalty with just a click on their device, it’s more essential than ever that brands put their customers first.
As a national final mile logistics provider with a multi-carrier network, USPack is your partner for meeting your customers’ high volume and high expectations. With an extensive network of contracted carriers and fully managed transportation solutions, you can rely on us to not only get you started confidently and cost-effectively this peak season—we’re here to help you all the way through and the months after.
We are in this together. Call us now to get your plans started.