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Prepare for Peak Shipping Season

Posted by Nate Ross on June 11, 2021 - 11:06 AM
prepare for peak shipping season

What to expect from peak season 2021

Peak season in the transportation and logistics industry happens from around August to October each year — as produce season starts winding down and retail businesses begin gearing up for back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. During this time, drivers typically stay loaded and on the road as demand surges and shipment volumes increase. And most years, the result is extremely tight capacity and higher spot rates.

Though peak season doesn’t come as a surprise to most shippers, like many things in 2021, this year looks a lot different. Inventory is rebuilding and the economy is in a much better place than it was a year ago, with retail and manufacturing shippers experiencing strong consumer demand. And that means carriers are taking on higher than normal freight volumes.

While this is great news, the caveat is that the industry has yet to experience the typical “quiet and slow” season that most shippers are accustomed to. This is due to a mixture of unexpected disruptions the first part of the year, such as extreme winter weather, the Suez Canal blockage, the Colonial Pipeline Hack, the I-40 bridge closure, and higher than normal demand. Essentially, demand and volume never decreased, and capacity never loosened. We’re moving from already strained conditions right into peak shipping season where, according to ACT Research Cass Shipments Index® data, freight volumes are expected to be up 13% YoY in Q3.   

With capacity already tighter than usual entering peak season, the need for a reliable logistics partner that can flex with the market is more important than ever. 

How ArcBest is keeping your freight moving

Regardless of the freight environment we’re in, your customers expect you to meet their delivery requirements. To do that, it’s important to be able to continue doing business as usual when capacity is tight. It’s also important to be able to act quickly to meet demand and manage high shipment volumes when that demand spikes.

As a logistics provider with multiple capacity solutions that allow shippers to shift to alternative mode options, integrated technology that helps you make smarter shipping decisions, and a team of problem solvers who think differently and look for better solutions, ArcBest® is uniquely positioned to help you do just that. For some, that may mean a complete supply chain overhaul or a freight consolidation strategy, and for others it may be as simple as a mode shift for additional capacity. Whatever the case, the experts at ArcBest can partner with you to learn your business, help evaluate the risk posed by peak season, and recommend opportunities to diversify your capacity options — so you can meet customer expectations.  

Though 2020 taught us it’s impossible to predict the future, it’s expected that capacity strain will likely continue to be an issue for years to come due to regulatory impacts, an improving economy and the industry-wide driver shortage making it more difficult for shippers to find available trucks. Some of the things ArcBest is doing to help shippers continue meeting customer expectations include:     

  • Investing heavily in technology that makes it easier to digitally match shipments with capacity.
  • Hiring more drivers and dock workers across the ABF® LTL network to support higher freight volumes.
  • Purchasing additional equipment for the ABF network.
  • Aggressively recruiting and adding daily to our network of over 40,000 approved contract carriers.
  • Hiring additional logistics and technology professionals to support growing needs.

What you can do to keep delivering on your promises

While partnering with a trusted logistics provider is critical in times like these, when capacity is tight, there are some things you can do to help ensure your shipments keep moving:

  • Build a collaborative partnership with ArcBest and communicate early and often.
  • Get digital connections in place that allow for insight into your supply chain and help better manage shipments. The ability to predict demand surges and spikes can help with proactive mode optimization and load planning.
  • Start planning and scheduling shipments early. Contact your ArcBest account manager today to review your peak season shipments and begin securing capacity.
  • Be open to new ways of doing things. In a tight capacity market, it may be beneficial to shift modes, consolidate freight or move to solutions you haven’t considered before. 
  • Create efficient pickup and delivery processes, and if possible, offer flexible “on” or “by” appointment times.

Connect with us

Contact your ArcBest account manager today or schedule a discovery call to discuss ways to make sure your shipments are delivered when and where you need them throughout peak shipping season. Then, take a look at the supply chain solutions and freight shipping services available through ArcBest.


Nate Ross

Nate Ross, Vice President of Enterprise Sales, joined ArcBest in 2002. He is an expert in the operations and supply chain challenges of large-scale businesses and currently leads a team dedicated to meeting the transportation and logistics needs of Fortune 1000 companies.

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