Navigating the Challenges of Peak Season Logistics

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As the holiday shopping season rapidly approaches, shippers and carriers are yet again gearing up to tackle the formidable logistical and customer service challenges that inevitably come with peak season volumes. However, this year, their task is further complicated by ongoing supply chain disruptions all while grappling with the increasing uncertainty based on the geopolitical situation. Yet amid these challenges, customer expectations continue to soar, demanding fast, convenient, and on-time deliveries accompanied by real-time communication. To paraphrase Game of Thrones, Winter is certainly coming.

Shippers, carriers, and customers alike are no strangers to the stress involved in the months leading up to Christmas. With Black Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day sales just around the corner and unforeseen circumstances and delays, the potential for overwhelm is ever-present. However, proactive planning and more organised transportation operations can alleviate these concerns, ensuring that any potential threats to deliver a seamless peak season can be avoided.

Therefore, the need for swift and intelligent delivery solutions is more critical than ever. Transportation Management Platforms (TMP) emerge as a key enabler, allowing stakeholders to optimise delivery times, enhance agility, and streamline their sustainability and costs, all while meeting rising consumer expectations. In this article, Christian Dolderer explains why it’s vital that retailers should prepare a seamless end-to-end supply chain before the run up to 2023’s peak season…

The Beauty of Data

Shippers and carriers are facing a delicate balancing act of keeping costs down while meeting the needs of increasingly demanding consumers. An empty shelf isn’t just a lost sale for someone – it’s a reason for customers to switch to another brand. So, businesses looking to drive as much value as possible from their operations also must ensure resilience against disruptions that, according to McKinsey, are becoming increasingly frequent.

Achieving an equilibrium between value and resilience starts with digitisation. The truth is that shippers and carriers aren’t as digitised as they should be. The era of Excel spreadsheets, manual searches, and endless route and rate browsing have become relics of the past. This inefficient administration burns valuable resources and fails to deliver optimum outcomes.

Now is the time for enterprises to pivot from mere data collection and embark on the process of generating transactions with the data at their disposal. Automated, data-driven decision-making within a collaborative and interconnected network, leveraging historical patterns, real-time data, and future predictions, will enhance transportation operations and enable reactions to fluctuating customer demands and adaptations to unforeseen events, such as border closures or dangerous weather conditions.

At the same time, tapping into data will provide balance in optimising their operations. Consider a day-to-day product such as toilet rolls, which is transported from warehouses to multiple countries and hundreds – if not thousands – of locations within those countries on a near-daily basis. These transports may have to cross international borders, adapt their routes due to traffic jams or road closures, and sync up with countless other transports. The logistics involved are staggering, but data can act as the common thread that ties such a complex operation together.

By investing in a smart Transport Management Platform, carriers and shippers can unlock multiple benefits such as optimising their operations and building greater profit margins. However, achieving it requires businesses to think beyond basic automation.

We’re Better Together

At times like peak season, it is more important than ever for enterprises to unite and work together to unlock operational benefits. For example, there’s no reason for trucks to travel hundreds of empty miles when a similar truck, equipped for the task, is more than likely unloading nearby. It’s time for shippers and carriers to forge connections with one another, establish common business standards, foster collaboration and embrace a platform that facilitates network-wide interoperability.

During peak season, connecting shippers, load recipients, service providers, brokers, forwarders and asset-based carriers is integral to creating a collaborative transportation community. By adhering to common standards and promoting interoperability, all stakeholders can uncover new business opportunities while achieving economies in their operations. This spirit of collaboration will grant the transportation market resilience and agility – both critical components, as highlighted in the 33rd Annual State of Logistics (SoL) report.

Conclusion

Long before the holiday season, shippers and carriers must be prepared to build deeper relationships and drive collaboration with other industry stakeholders within one connected network. They must work together to realise the economic gains available. It’s also clear that only through the implementation of digital tools, automation of the decision-making processes, and the harnessing of real-time insights, can the necessary steps be taken to establish the connectivity and interoperability required to bring logistics businesses together.