While we at Freightcom hate to be the bearers of bad news, there is no way of avoiding it; we are quickly approaching what is arguably the most challenging time of the year for shippers, peak season.
For the uninitiated, peak season is the period typically between early August and mid-December in which manufacturers are preparing themselves for every major event from back-to-school to the holiday shopping season. This attempt to prepare for the ongoing major retail and manufacturing push results in stress from one end of the supply chain to the other.
While there are inevitably factors that may change how shippers approach peak season from one year to the next, this year presents some especially unique factors that may have a greater impact on one’s strategy than in years past.
With that in mind, this week on the blog we’ll be taking a close look at what’s changed this peak season, what challenges you’ll likely have dealt with in the past, and what you’ll want to do to navigate all of it.
What About This Year’s Peak Season Will Stay the Same?
In the case of the 2022 peak season, the old phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings very much true. The unfortunate part is that the things that are staying the same are only adding to the further difficulties shippers can expect to experience in the coming months.
To start, despite best efforts, China continues to experience ongoing COVID lockdowns that, as in 2020 and 2021, continue to impact the efficacy of the Chinese shipping industry, and cause a ripple effect that stretches to the shipping industry on a global scale.
Despite these overseas delays, we are still seeing ongoing volume issues domestically, as evidenced by the statistics coming out of the Port of Los Angeles: In the first four months of 2022, the port handled more than 3.5 million twenty-foot equivalent shipping containers, or TEUs. This was not only a 1% increase from the same time last year, but an overall increase of 31.2% compared to 2019.
Reports from the Port of Vancouver paint a slightly more optimistic picture: as of May 2022, the port saw 1.5 million TEUs handled. This number, while down 9.7% from the previous year, is still up from 2019’s 1.4 million TEUs.
In short, many of the issues that have plagued the global supply chain since 2020 are still being dealt with today, and as such carrier supply and peak season rates still have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
What Makes This Year’s Peak Season Different?
The short answer is a lot. Ongoing Covid-related issues with the supply chain notwithstanding, there is much that has happened since last year’s peak season that have had a monumental effect on the shipping world.
The unfortunate reality is that, between the near-constant rise of oil prices and the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict, the stress on the global supply chain has only increased since last year. In fact, a survey conducted by Container xChange found that 51% of freight forwarders, traders, and shippers expect this peak season to be more challenging, and more chaotic, than years past.
With the current supply chain issues compounding with those still yet to be resolved, this year’s peak season may be the most challenging that many shippers have ever faced.
What You Need to Survive Peak Season 2022
There are several pieces of evergreen advice that every shipper ought to keep in mind during peak season. In fact, we’ve covered them right here in the past! With that said, let’s review some steps one ought to be taking every peak season, as well as look at what may be worth considering on account of current events.
Plan Your Shipping Strategy Well in Advance
Peak season is the most high-demand time of the year for carriers, and as such it’s imperative that shippers put plenty of forethought into their shipping strategy leading up to mid-August.
Planning for peak is ultimately a task in maximizing efficiency. As such, it’s key to prioritize the inventory you plan to ship during these months. Analyzing past sales data can help to inform the decisions of what goods should take precedence over others.
Further, it’s of the utmost importance that one be meticulous in their shipping strategy where carriers are concerned, as well. Due to different carriers having different strengths, different services, and ultimately different rates, diversifying the carriers and services you use during peak can offer you the best chance for the smooth, efficient, and cost-effective transport of your goods.
Be Mindful of Additional Fees
Additional fees, especially surprise fees, can be a headache for shippers year-round. During peak season, however, these fees, and the stresses they can bring, typically skyrocket.
Accessorials such as tailgates, and services such as residential deliveries and limited access deliveries should be utilized with the utmost discretion. Further, be diligent in researching and double-checking all delivery addresses to avoid hefty chargebacks and delays.
Another potential pitfall to be mindful of is pallet and package size and weight. During peak season, fees for oversize and overweight shipments could add hundreds, or in some cases thousands of dollars to your invoice. Knowing the correct way to prepare a pallet or prepare a parcel for shipping is an invaluable tool in avoiding this.
Use the Right Tools to Minimize Your Shipping Fees
There is not much the average shipper can do to influence global events or affect rising fuel prices. However, this doesn’t mean that one can’t be proactive in combating a rising overhead, with the right tools and services.
Utilizing a 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) service can help to reduce the distance many of your shipments need to travel, thereby lowering the cost to ship them.
Further, using a shipping management platform, such as Freightcom, can help ensure that you have access to a wide range of services and carriers, so you can be confident that you are doing everything in your power to get the best rates available when you book.
Peak Season or Not, Freightcom Has You Covered
Peak season is undeniably the time of the year when shippers could use the biggest helping hand, but there’s nothing wrong with having some help with your shipping strategy year-round., That’s where Freightcom comes in.
Our all-in-one shipping platform gives shippers preferred rates on LTL and parcel shipping from North America’s leading carriers, as well as tools for eCommerce fulfillment, streamlined billing, and more, all for zero start-up or monthly fees!
Contact one of our shipping experts today and see how Freightcom can help optimize your shipping during peak season, off-season, and season in-between.