The holiday season is approaching, and if you’re not already feeling the seasonal shipping pressure, rest assured: It will be here before you know it.
Manage seasonal shipping stress with thorough preparation, a streamlined process, and the right shipping management solutions.
1. Get ready
The first step to success in any endeavor is preparation. Get ready to take on the challenges of seasonal shipping with these proactive planning tips:
- Plan for the expected — and the unexpected. Think about the shipping challenges you’ve experienced in previous years. What can you do to avoid a repeat of problems you’ve already solved? Use predictive analytics to forecast potential shipping snags, and keep up with carrier, logistics, and supply chain news. Preparing for the unexpected means getting proactive with shipping contingency plans to cover all the possibilities.
- Communicate. If you haven’t already, start communicating with your carriers, suppliers, and customers today. Consistent communication helps everyone manage seasonal shipping expectations.
- Stock up on essential shipping supplies. The holidays are a particularly bad time to run out of essential packaging and shipping supplies. Stock up now, and keep extras of everything on hand.
- Use your data. Real-time data, analytics, and reporting keeps your business informed of current inventory and shipping options. Check and doublecheck your data for proactive, flexible inventory and shipping strategy management.
- Establish deadlines and cutoff dates. Establish order deadlines and delivery cutoff dates, and use multiple communication channels to remind stakeholders — especially customers, carriers, and seasonal employees — and alert them to relevant changes.
- Check your tools. Do you have secure, reliable access to the tools and technology solutions your business needs to manage an efficient seasonal shipping strategy? A customized, cloud-based shipping management platform keeps you and your customers informed, offers carrier flexibility, and scales to your seasonal shipping needs.
- Implement tracking. Look for shipping solutions that offer tracking for every shipment, regardless of carrier, in one accessible and user-friendly place. Send automatic tracking notifications to reduce customer package inquiries and increase shipping transparency.
2. Get set
When all the pieces are in place, and you’ve prepared for every shipping management scenario under the sun, evaluate these existing strategies to optimize efficiency:
- Peak demand. A single carrier strategy limits your seasonal shipping capability. A multicarrier strategy creates more shipping options for your customers and more cost control for your business.
- Surcharges and additional fees. Account for peak carrier surcharges and other relevant “additional fees” in your shipping budget and management strategy.
- Verification and visibility. Speaking of additional fees, delivery address errors are a potential source of extra costs that can add up quickly during the holiday shipping season. Use your shipping management platform to verify delivery addresses, reduce your vulnerability to additional fees, and increase cost management visibility.
- Real-time data and analytics. When your shipping circumstances change, real-time data and advanced analytics keep you informed about what’s happening now and help you predict what’s likely to happen next.
- Returns management. Implement a proactive returns management strategy to simplify gift return and exchange processes for your customers and your employees — and get ready to maximize any post-holiday business opportunities.
3. Get shipping
With your shipping strategies adjusted, tweaked, and/or scaled for maximum efficiency, you’re ready to take your seasonal shipping game to the next level with comprehensive shipping management solutions, including:
- Automation. Streamline your shipping workflows with high-tech, automated customer and carrier processes, including automatic pickup, tracking, and delivery notifications and instant, multicarrier cost vs. delivery window analysis for the best possible shipping price every time.
- Data-driven decisions. Real-time cost and delivery data allows for quick adjustments in rapidly changing circumstances.
- Seasonal shipping stress management. When you manage your shipping strategy from a custom, comprehensive, and user-friendly platform, you’re empowered with the information you need to optimize the seasonal shipping experience for your customers, your employees, and your bottom line.