How to Make Your Holiday Shipping Less Frightful – Ascent Global Logistics
A month before Christmas, a major snowstorm blankets the Northeast. Traffic is snarled for weeks and truckloads of gifts are stuck in distribution centers and trailers. The Christmas buying rush could be in jeopardy for a large part of the country. Even Santa and his red-nosed reindeer friend are unable to save the day.
Without a solid 3PL relationship, the perfect storm could turn into a perfect disaster for a manufacturer or retail supplier’s holiday revenue projections. With so much at stake this holiday shipping season, retail suppliers and 3PL partners must have a plan to deal with the inevitable disasters and near disasters.
Shipments from Asia could be delayed, eating into the timeline of a company’s domestic supply chain. The effects from a major storm like Hurricane Florence or Michael could easily ripple for many weeks as trucking capacity is understandably rerouted to recovery efforts.
Trucking capacity is a challenging issue in the best of times. Severe weather events and other external issues can often exacerbate those problems. If a situation develops that requires you to resort to expedited shipping, work with a 3PL that has comprehensive experience in managing those moves, both ground and air freight.
One of the critical steps is to develop a long-term partnership, so you’re not scrambling to find help when loads of products are behind schedule. You will not only have a better chance of avoiding problems during the holiday rush, but you could also maximize your logistics processes throughout the year.
Working with a 3PL can give you the technological edge to manage those problems quickly and comprehensively. With a robust TMS, you have visibility into the route, mode, price, and transit on one screen, so you don’t have to manage the quoting process with individual carriers manually.
While it will not be quite the same as a red sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer, your 3PL relationship can help your holiday shipping season go down in history for the right reasons.
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5 Steps to Holiday Shipping Magic
- Partner with a comprehensive 3PL. Work with a partner that has an enterprise-level view of your operations, not one that is focused on transactions or filling their own trucks.
- Ensure your 3PL supports you. Use a 3PL that can support all your needs, including international airfreight forwarding, ocean freight forwarding, customs brokerage, full truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL), and distribution.
- Set schedules. Look at time-definite delivery options to meet tight schedules for crucial shopping days and promotions.
- Lean on technology. As supply chains become more complex with decentralized warehousing, drop shipping, and other wrinkles, use a platform that allows you to manage your shipments no matter who’s carrying them.
- Be flexible. Each year’s holiday season is different from the one before it. A few years ago, Amazon’s sales were huge, and UPS couldn’t keep up. This year, Toys R Us is closed, so online sales could spike again, or other retailers could face toy shortages unless they plan ahead. Stay alert to what might make this year’s challenges unique.