Did you know that trucks moved 11.49 billion tons of freight last year? It would be hectic enough if that volume was evenly distributed throughout the year. But, that isn’t the case.
Just like any other industry, the freight industry experiences a peak season each year. With it comes increased demand, inflated prices, and more risk.
If you ship freight, then it’s vital you know when this season is and how to navigate it. Otherwise, you risk delayed shipments, blown budgets, and even lost product.
With this guide, we are going to help you become a pro at peak season shipping.
What Is Peak Season?
Every year around mid-August through October, freight shipping volumes rise. This is the busiest time for retailers and shippers.
The freight industry already has a problem with supply and demand. But, during peak season the imbalance is even more noticeable.
Why Is It Important?
The peak season for freight is important because this is when retailers want to get their products on the shelf as early as possible. First, there’s the back to school season.
Then there is the holiday season following close behind. Retailers want their products to be the ones consumers buy. But to do this, the product needs to make it to the shelves.
If you don’t prepare for peak season, then you’ll lose out on having your product be the first one on the shelf.
There’s a balance, though, you want your product there first, but you don’t want to eliminate your profit margin by paying inflated shipping costs.
What Affects Peak Season?
Each year, peak season shifts slightly as to when it starts. Several outside influences can shift the season’s starting point. For example, one year peak season was moved forward because of rising tensions between the US and China.
Retailers and manufacturers were nervous about the breakdown in relations between China and the US. When a breakdown happens, trade between the two countries becomes near impossible.
Other influences that can shift peak season are e-commerce, growth of the retail industry, and brick and mortar store growth.
How to Deal With Peak Season
Knowing when peak season is and how to deal with it will help you limit your freight costs. By using these techniques, you can limit the effects you feel from increased freight costs.
Prioritize Your Shipments
When shipping season is at its peak, you risk containers getting rolled. This means that the transit vessel gets overbooked. Your shipment could be the one that gets held up for the next cargo ship.
Prioritize your shipments so that those on a strict deadline get the majority of your attention. Let your freight forwarder know that a shipment is a priority.
Focus on the core products that make you the most money. Those are the products that you need to have arrive on time.
This same strategy applies when booking LTL freight in the US. Carriers will have multiple trucks running the busy lanes. So if they overbook, your shipment gets moved to the next truck.
Split Your Shipments
Don’t delay your shipments. If you have something ready for shipping, then get it out there. There are a few different methods for accomplishing this.
If you have multiple containers in one shipment, separate them so they each have their own BOL. Carriers roll shipments based on the BOL.
When your containers are all on different BOLs, you may have one container rolled, but the rest will get shipped. This is much better than having all of your containers rolled.
This strategy also applies to transport within the US. If the carrier sees that you have four pallets, they will keep those four pallets together.
Instead, you can have four separate BOLs. Now you have a better chance of a least some of your product making it to the destination on time.
The second method is to stagger your shipments. That way, you always have some inventory on hand.
Don’t wait until all four pallets are ready for shipment to send them. Instead, ship one pallet every week or so, or whenever you have the next one ready. This will limit the amount of inventory you have stuck in limbo during transport.
Choose the Slow Route
In a day and age where everyone wants to get their shipments delivered as fast as possible, you can use this to your advantage. Everyone else is competing for the fastest transit times.
This means that ships with longer transit times become less popular and are ready and available for your shipment. This is great for you because it means that it’s less likely your shipments will get delayed.
Often, these longer shipments are only a couple days delayed from the in-demand fast shipments. This means a few extra days of storage for your goods.
It’s more important than ever to have your shipments secure with the proper insurance. With the higher volume, there’s a greater risk of something going wrong.
You don’t want your shipment to be the one that gets lost or damaged. But with comprehensive insurance, you can limit your damages.
Stick With a Carrier You Trust
Sometimes forwarders will use a strategy where they book with several different carriers. Then, they back out at the last minute after locating the best price. The carriers do not like this practice.
For them, it means they lose out on actual shipments because of their last-minute cancellations. To combat this, the carrier will reject booking from forwarders that have a history of canceling with them.
It’s crucial that you don’t work with a forwarder that does this. You need to work with a forwarder that you can trust.
Book Your Shipment Today
When it’s time to book your shipments during peak season, it’s important to have the right team on your side. By working with an experienced freight broker, you can ensure that you get the best rate.
Book your shipment today by filling out our quote request form.