Working the retail boom into your LTL shipping approach.

September 6, 2019

When it comes to peak shipping seasons, having a solid LTL strategy in place is key for small and mid-sized businesses. Everything from communication lines to backup plans have to be in place for your process to run smoothly. What happens, however, when peak season-like conditions kick in with no end in sight? 

Enter: the retail boom

Throughout the last few years, the retail industry has seen unprecedented growth across the board. From ecommerce sites to brick-and-mortar shops, business is sky-high. The big question is how all of this is going to affect your shipping strategy. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into how you can work the retail boom into your LTL shipping approach.


A glance at the retail industry.

The retail industry is booming and it’s showing no signs of weakening. According to Customer Growth Partners, retail sales are expected to hit $3.77 trillion by the end of 2019. (For reference, 2018 grossed $3.58 trillion). This surge has been excellent for the freight economy, and many are grateful for the boost in business. 

With this retail boom, though, comes the need to compete. Retailers everywhere are trying to outdo each other with major sale events, which puts even more pressure on shippers. As customers are hitting the discount shelves in stores and surfing cyber sales, LTL shippers are left to figure out how to tackle the increase in demand.


Challenges the retail boom brings to LTL shippers.

One of the biggest challenges to note is that customers want speed, and they’re willing to pay for it. As a shipper, you’ll need to anticipate how quickly retailers need to get products back on their shelves. Once they run low on product, retailers will be looking to you to restock.

Another one of the most difficult aspects of the retail boom is that it isn’t a shopping season everyone must work into their year, it’s an upward trend. This is the new normal, so understanding how to rework your LTL shipping strategy is a huge task in and of itself.

Now, of course, there are similar issues as the holiday and back to school shopping seasons, for instance. The difference is that the plan you and your team come up with will have to be one that lasts. Keeping products on shelves and anticipating an increase in demand for two-day or same-day deliveries will be the most important factors. Identifying these weak spots within your own strategy will be crucial in achieving maximum success. 


Using higher retail demand to your advantage.

While the retail industry has been on the up and up for a few years now, what’s different about it now is the increase in special sale events. So, while this increase in retail demand may be challenging, you should absolutely take advantage of the increase in business. Locking in freight rates as soon as possible will help to avoid being hit with rate increases later down the road. 

Many online and brick-and-mortar stores are confining major sales to one weekend or even a single day. It’s important to keep these types of dates in mind as you plan for the months ahead. If you don’t have everything in place to tackle a major retail event, you could be thrown completely off guard. Keep your calendar marked with these sales so you’re able to take advantage of the boost in business. Otherwise, you could fall behind. 


Maintaining a lasting LTL shipping strategy.

When it comes to the retail boom, simply keeping communication lines open won’t fully do the trick. Since a higher demand will likely leave you needing more hands on deck, you will have to ensure your entire team is onboarded and trained properly. If your team is running like a well-oiled machine, then your strategy will too. 

As tighter deadlines come into play, you won’t have time to double-check that everyone understands what they’ll need to do to adapt. Taking care of thorough training - even with your veteran team members - in any downtime you have is crucial.

Also, be sure that your technology is up to date. Visibility is the golden ticket to a solid shipping strategy. Using self-service online tools like the ones we offer here at Freightquote by C.H. Robinson will help you stay informed and on top of any issues that may arise. 


As the retail boom continues. 

Adjusting to such an increase in demand is no small feat. Staying informed and understanding how to expand your LTL shipping strategy along with the retail industry is crucial. And as long as you learn to adapt alongside the industry, your new LTL shipping strategy will become second nature. 

Working on improving your process? At Freightquote, we know which tools you’ll need to better your business. Feel free to contact us today with any questions you may have and we’ll get you started.

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