How Parcel Shippers Can Prepare for 2023 and Beyond
Every shipper needs to ensure they have a backup plan or an alternative carrier to deliver their packages should a strike occur. What’s more, that plan needs to be in place sooner rather than later.
Q. What is the biggest unknown in the parcel industry in 2023?
A. The biggest unknown for many industries in 2023 is the possibility of strikes. The pandemic stretched and stressed certain industries with employees raising concerns about long working hours and unsafe conditions. A prime example is the number of nurses strikes with representatives arguing for safer working conditions and better pay.
The world of transportation is no different. Rail narrowly escaped a strike at the end of 2022—a situation that would have had a significant domino effect into other modes. And now we’re hearing word of a potential strike in parcel.
Q. Are strikes less likely in companies that have a reputation for paying their employees well?
A. When the possibility of a strike enters the discussion, we should assume no one is safe regardless of industry or how well employees are paid. We saw this recently when Starbucks employees went on strike for more fair staffing and the main point of contention in the rail strike was sick leave.
Q. What can shippers do to prepare for possible carrier strikes?
A. Every shipper needs to ensure they have a backup plan or an alternative carrier to deliver their packages should a strike occur and that plan needs to be in place sooner rather than later. Consider this: if you are looking for an alternative carrier, then there are most definitely other shippers with the same strategy.
The sooner you move to secure a solution, the better your chance of success.
There was a large surge in parcel shipments during the pandemic and some regional carriers stopped adding new customers in the middle of the year. They welcomed the additional volume, but they had to reject new customers due to capacity constraints. If you procrastinate on finalizing alternative carriers, then it could be too late.
As you consider alternative carriers, keep in mind the most important aspect of this relationship is securing a strong pricing agreement. Have a solid grasp on your current shipping profile and the related costs and then verify that you will not pay more with a different carrier.
It may sound simple, but it can actually be extremely complicated since carriers have different list rates and accessorial charges as well as different terms and conditions. Do not finalize any new agreements without knowing future costs that are impacted by these factors.
Also consider that certain carriers are stronger in some regions than others and not all service offerings are created equal. Conduct a trial run by moving packages with any additional carriers you are considering and evaluate their service against your needs.
Ensure their pickup window works for your operations schedule. Evaluate their scanning, tracking, and printing capabilities and monitor delivery times. Are packages delivered within the agreed times? Test different routes, customers, and products to ensure that all aspects of the process work correctly prior to a permanent move.