5 tips to consider when prepping for the winter shipping season.

June 15, 2019

Winter is coming.

Those famous words echoed by Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, remind us of a harsh reality. No, we’re not referring to the army of the undead (thankfully) – we mean a change in the seasons. And as each winter approaches, shippers have to prepare for what lies ahead. Frigid temperatures, unstable road conditions and many other winter hazards often lead to shipment delays, shortages and supply chain nightmares. 

The trucking industry is dictated by the effects of weather more so than any other, as weather-related shipping challenges cost it anywhere between $2 and $3.5 billion per year on average. However, you don’t have to lose sleep worrying what the next “snowmageddon” might do to your business if you plan ahead.

By planning ahead, your business will be able to assess the situation more clearly, thus minimizing the effects of winter’s wrath. We’ve put together five tips to help shippers overcome those winter freight shipping blues and ensure a successful season.


1. DC/Warehousing

It’s a common practice for companies to store their products at different warehouses and distribution centers across a wide range of locations as preparation for typical business fluctuations. If a sale at a local retail outlet leaves their shelves bare, they can easily access more from a nearby warehouse.

Instead of transporting goods across the country, these strategically-placed warehouses and distribution centers allow for quicker pickup and delivery times. Part of your supply chain might be temporarily shut down during a harsh winter storm and incorporating a DC/warehousing strategy will keep your operations moving.


2. Prepare for delays

Terrible weather and icy roads aren’t the only challenges that can cause delays. The winter season is also responsible for holiday traffic, high order volumes and seemingly endless service restrictions preventing truckers from driving when you need them the most. Delays are inevitable.

While you can't prepare for everything, there are a few things you can do:

  • Try to stay flexible and have a backup plan.
  • Plan out your shipping dates as soon as possible with your carrier.
  • Make sure your carrier offers tracking so you know where your shipments are.
  • Consider expedited shipping. If there’s any concern your shipment won’t make it in time, it may be worth paying a little extra to get it there.


3. Utilize all available data and shipping options

Analyzing the data where you have shipped on previous occasions is a great place to start, but don’t strictly limit yourself to this data when you start expanding to new locations.

Utilizing and analyzing all of the available data at hand assists you in accurately determining weather-related risks no matter where your operations are so you can better predict potential disruptions.

Additionally, be sure to keep your shipping options open. For example, if you are shipping commodities such as chemicals, liquids, or perishable foods, you may want to consider protect from freeze services.


4. Communication is key

Winter delays are going to happen, but keeping constant communication between your organization and vendors can help minimize the effects.

Outlining potential challenges and issues to your team while also discussing plans and strategies will help keep your organization running smoothly even in the harsh winter months.

Look for a freight shipping provider that offers the ability to properly track and monitor your shipments whenever and wherever they might be. It’s ideal to keep your entire team in the loop so everyone is properly informed and more than capable to step up when needed.


5. Partner with a service provider

Working with an experienced freight service provider who can find your business the best available rates is a great way to survive the winter, as they can help to navigate challenges and adapt to any unforeseen changes.

Partnering with a provider such as Freightquote by C.H. Robinson is a perfect cure for avoiding those winter freight shipping blues. We work with you to solve potential challenges such as adjusting freight volume, changing routes to minimize delays, and finding the best possible carriers to assure that your delivery arrives right on time.


Final thoughts.

While almost every business is susceptible to extreme winter weather variances, retailers and e-commerce companies, in particular, are highly vulnerable and therefore must take extra precautions when dealing with the forces of nature. Be sure to plan accordingly by adhering to these tips and avoid the effects of old man winter. Don’t get left out in the cold. We are here to help you every step of the way.


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