Addressing Shipping Challenges During Peak Seasons:
Expert Advice for Smooth Operations

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Your customers expect prompt and effective service when making purchases, and that includes the whole delivery experience. However, not all delivery scenarios are the same, and during busy periods such as the Holidays, it can be a real challenge to maintain the same level of service and customer experience. Peak season shipping presents problems right along the supply chain, from maintaining a flow of stock to getting products to purchasers in a timely way.

Endless out of stock notices and long delivery times have the same effect though, they mean your customers are going to choose a competitor when they make a purchase, so it is important to think about the issue, understand the problems, and have a plan in place to avoid the peak season freight problems that you may have experienced before.
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When is Peak Season Shipping?

To understand how to deal with the issues for freight peak season brings, we need to establish what it means. In general, peak season comprises of two periods, as students return to school, and around the Holidays. That would be August to October and November-December-January, but many in the industry like to call peak season that entire period from August to the end of the Holidays.

Now we know when peak season freight is an issue, what are the issues it brings to businesses and their customers? During these peak periods there is much higher demand for shipping of all kinds, and that leads to a number of challenges, including:
  • A tightening of overall freight capacity
  • Cost increases for freight in general
  • Poorer service from freight companies
  • Less freight options as some services, such as certain rail solutions, are unavailable

Dealing with Peak Season Freight

If you are new to a business that is affected by peak season shipping issues, or you have only experienced this a couple of times, it can be a daunting challenge. We all know that customers expect the same levels of service all year round, and especially online, brand image can be harmed over even minor issues. It makes sense then, that dealing with peak season shipping should be a priority for any business, finding ways to smooth out the process so the service consumers experience remains consistent.

Here are some things you can do to ensure that freight peak season issues do not compromise your customer experience.
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Having several regular freight options that you use and build relationships with them during off-peak times gives you more leverage during peak season shipping. This approach can overcome issues with capacity, but by having multiple options, can put you in a stronger position when it comes to negotiating costs too.

The important thing is to build these relationships before peak season freight, give them business in the quieter time, learn how they work and what their strengths are. This is information you can use to your advantage, but in addition, when freight companies are in the middle of peak season shipping, they are going to look after existing customers first, if you are cold calling looking for help, it is going to be non-existent or expensive.

How you find these companies can vary, you may already have contacts that you can work with, but shipping industry conferences can also be a way to get to know new shipping options. Recommendations from other businesses or other word of mouth approaches also provide good leads too. Always listen to freight company recommendations, you can never have enough options for your shipping needs.
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Take Control of Logistics

The simple fact is that during peak season shipping is harder to secure and more costly. It is possible to mitigate some of those effects through diversifying freight suppliers, but ultimately it will have an impact even then.

Being proactive with logistics can ease the effect. Don’t wait for bottlenecks in the supply chain for instance, ramp up stock levels early to compensate, likewise establish a baseline for increased costs with suppliers and build that into your costs. Some recommend a freight peak season surcharge, however this can put customers off, and there is a better option.

By adopting real time shipping pricing through software such as Calcurates, customers see the exact pricing from a choice of freight companies during the checkout process. Having this in place means they can pay the cheapest rate possible for every order, and you will find that shipping cost fluctuations over time are more easily accepted through this approach.

Understand Customer Expectations

Peak season freight will affect your business at some point, no matter how well you plan ahead by building alternative shipping options and other contingencies. But that doesn’t mean you should be resigned to providing a bad experience for customers. Instead, before peak season shipping challenges emerge, you can take the time to understand and manage customer expectations to avoid disappointment.

Again, bespoke shipping services like Calcurates allow customers to choose their own shipping solutions during checkout. This provides real-time pricing, but also delivery timing as well. During peak season freight or any other time, your customers will have a choice of prices and delivery speed provided directly by the shipping company, and this helps to manage expectations.

Because they get accurate pricing and realistic delivery speeds during the checkout process, you will never be left in a situation where you are over promising on shipping performance, and while delivery can be slower during peak season, the customer will be informed before purchase.
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Peak season shipping causes issues for every business that uses freight handling for the supply chain or customers, but while those issues cannot be eliminated completely, they can be managed. By utilizing dedicated real-time shipping solutions within the checkout process, businesses give consumers the choice for their shipping, mitigating the issues of disappointing customers through over promising on shipping performance or having to add overt price increases such as peak shipping surcharges.

By preparing in advance, having the right approach to shipping and good freight partners, while peak season still presents issues, the customer experience can be managed, preventing a negative impact on the brand.
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