Why planning ahead pays off during the holiday shipping season.

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Every year, the holiday season presents small to medium-sized businesses with the opportunity for growth due to the influx of shoppers looking to buy gifts. While increased purchases are beneficial for SMBs, they can also put a major strain on business operations as they look to ship out customer orders. 

In order for SMBs to take full advantage of the holiday season, they need a strong shipping strategy in place. When building a holiday shipping strategy, planning ahead is essential as it will allow you to keep up with customer demand and improve shipping efficiency.

With that in mind, there are also several best practices all SMBs should consider when preparing for the holiday season as they will help to strengthen their shipping plans. Let’s take a look at how exactly planning ahead can benefit your business during the holidays.

 

Why it is important to plan.

One of the most common mistakes made while planning for the holiday season is simply waiting too long to start. The holidays are the busiest time of year for freight shipping, so securing capacity (finding available trucks) can be very difficult if not done in advance.

Another aspect of holiday shipping that needs to be planned out ahead of time is setting freight appointments. Scheduling pick-up and delivery appointments in advance is crucial for SMBs, as they are often competing with other businesses for space on retailer shipments headed to their stores. Many times, businesses try to schedule appointments while their freight is already in transit which can lead to major delays if there are no appointment times available. For this reason, it is important that you find out where your shipments are going as soon as possible, as this will give you ample time to set up all necessary appointments. Doing this will ensure that you are able to secure capacity and significantly lower the chances of there being any delays across your shipments.

 

Practices to implement ahead of time.

During the holidays, any delay to a shipment is problematic due to the tight delivery schedule many carriers are on. For this reason, you need to make sure that you have the necessary equipment in place to load your freight onto a truck and that the location it will be delivered to is equipped to unload the shipment. If not, you will need to arrange to have a liftgate on-site to help with the handling of your freight. This will lower the chances of there being any delays and will also allow you to avoid any unexpected accessorial fees

As with any other time of year, it is very important to follow weather patterns, especially when preparing shipments to and from areas that are known to have harsh winters. Given that planning for inclement weather can be very difficult, you should consider leaving 1-2 days of lag time in shipments to account for any unexpected delays due to storms.

For businesses that have yet to experience the holiday shipping season, using past strategies and freight data can help you prepare. Examining your busiest shipping period to date will allow you to forecast what the holidays will be like and help you build a foundation that you can use to form a plan. The same can be said for more established businesses, as many times analyzing past shipments will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to plan around them. 

 

How Freightquote can lend a helping hand.

The inflexible delivery times and higher freight rates you experience during the holiday season can make it difficult to adequately plan for an increase in shipments. With that mind, working with an experienced freight service provider can help take the burden of planning for the holidays off your shoulders, allowing you to place your focus back on day-to-day operations. 

Freightquote by C.H. Robinson works to secure capacity and ensure all of your shipments are made on time come the holiday season. Our set of comprehensive online tools give you the ability to fully manage every aspect of your freight, as well as provide your customers with regular updates on their shipments. We will also schedule all necessary appointments with carriers for you, so you do not have to worry about your freight getting delayed while it is in transit. 

 

Final thoughts.

While building a holiday shipping plan can be a daunting task for many small to medium-sized businesses, starting early and working with a knowledgeable freight service provider goes a long way in making sure you are ready for the holidays. To learn how Freightquote can help you be prepared, start your quote today.

 

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