If you’re involved in the ever-evolving world of ecommerce, you know just how hectic and stressful peak shipping season can be. Even though it’s August, planning for peak season is in full swing. Retailers start gearing up for the influx of packages as early as July and are hard at work throughout the new year to keep up with increased consumer demand.
This year’s peak shipping season is projected to be even more expensive than 2020’s peak season. While surcharges continue to rise, it begs the question of how technology can play a role in keeping costs reasonable for both shippers and consumers.
Lean into automation.
If you’ve never explored automation in shipping, now is a great time to consider doing so. Automation alone can be a huge boost to your ecommerce business’ productivity, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business. The right automation technology can assist with freight matching, auditing bills, control systems, machinery, software, data entry, and more.
Automation can greatly assist with scalability and speed while providing you with real-time information on your packages’ movement.
For example, FedEx is aiming to significantly increase its shipping infrastructure through 16 fully automated facilities that will be ready to use just in time for peak season. These are in addition to 140 facilities that are already fully automated. These facilities have the ability to handle incoming inventory in addition to sorting and scanning packages.
Other benefits of automation in shipping include:
- Fewer mistakes as there is less manual data entry
- Increased organizational control due to the agility of the automation technologies
- Easily analyze data to pinpoint inefficiencies and bottlenecks
- Curate an improved customer experience via real-time tracking
Be mindful that increased automation means less flexibility in your processes, even more of a reason to start planning ahead as soon as possible.
Proactively communicate with your 3PL.
Communicating early and often with your third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help them understand your upcoming plans and projections before the rush of peak season. Maybe you’re releasing new products or offering promotions ahead of the holiday seasons that will put an additional strain on your fulfillment load this year. Or maybe you’re already concerned about the parcel strains that have made you reconsider your approach.
Regardless of the size of your business, talking with your 3PL ahead of time can help them understand what shipments to prioritize and what your approach will be this year. As customers are increasingly interested in reliable, free shipping versus fast shipping, it’s essential to work with your 3PL provider to develop a strategy that aligns with consumer expectations.
You should also consider sharing data, insights, and key performance indicators with your 3PL to alert them of your goals ahead of time. Sharing this information will only improve the process of finding hiccups in your processes and allows both sides to act proactively ahead of peak season.
On the other hand, your 3PL should make an around-the-clock effort to alert you of any issues, delays, or unexpected incidents with your shipments.
Technology to support carrier diversification.
One of the most critical aspects of your shipping technology is supporting carrier diversification. Strategically tapping into multiple carriers can significantly improve your shipping speed while reducing costs. While larger carriers may be a great choice for 70-80 percent of your freight, it’s essential to factor in the remaining shipping volume. Smaller carriers have easier access to niche areas and provide elasticity to the shipping market.
Aim to leverage technology such as a multi-carrier shipping API and a parcel management system ahead of peak shipping season. With access to over 100 carriers in a single integration, EasyPost allows shippers to connect people, processes, and third parties to real-time shipping operations, further supporting your diverse carrier mix.
Is your technology ready for peak shipping season?
The sooner you implement new shipping technology, the sooner you can stress test it ahead of peak season. Force your shipping ecosystem to operate at maximum capacity ahead of time to find its breaking point and proactively troubleshoot. Once peak season stress rolls around, you’ll be happy you did!
As we look ahead to the end of 2021, embrace shipping technology with open arms to improve your shipping operations. Your customers won’t forget the positive experience they had with your brand.