Preparing Freight for the Holiday Shopping Season
The holidays are almost here. Are your shipments ready?
With less than six weeks left until Black Friday, the race is on to get products ready for the holiday shopping season. And while many may be eager to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror, others are relying on the fourth quarter to boost sales and revenue. Having a plan in place is essential for success — especially since holiday sales will likely look different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
ArcBest can help you navigate the complexities of holiday shipping so you can have a strong end to 2020. Use the tips below to make sure you’re prepared.
Tips for managing your holiday freight
Know the deadlines
Whether you’re an ecommerce business or ship to the store, delivery timing can make or break your revenue goals. Understanding shipping windows reduces the risk of missed or late deliveries — and the costly fines they can cause.
Here are upcoming holidays and the dates they’re observed:
- Thanksgiving. Thursday, Nov. 26
- Day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday). Friday, Nov. 27
- Hanukkah. Tuesday, Dec. 22 – Friday, Dec. 30
- Christmas Eve. Thursday, Dec. 24
- Christmas Day. Friday, Dec. 25
- Kwanzaa. Saturday, Dec. 26 – Friday, Jan. 1
- New Year’s Eve. Thursday, Dec. 31
- New Year’s Day 2021. Friday, Jan. 1, 2021
Each store will have different requirements for shipments around those holidays, and warehouses may have deadlines to consider as well. Be sure to communicate those dates and times with your transportation provider as early as possible. Work backwards from the due dates considering delivery windows, appointment process, and transit time. All three are necessary to prevent compliance issues and avoid penalties. Working with a retail logistics expert can make it easier to meet your targets.
Make a plan with your logistics partner
With capacity already tight across the U.S., securing trucks for your shipments should be done as early as possible. Communicate your upcoming freight needs with providers and create a plan that will keep your freight moving on schedule. Potential roadblocks like weather delays should be talked through up front, so all parties know what to do in case they occur.
You’ll also want to be sure the logistics provider you choose is aligned with your compliance requirements. Discuss basic information such as pickup times, confirmation numbers, transit times and tracking capabilities as well as more complicated requirements you may have. Also talk through the best modes for your shipments. Weighing options like cost vs speed and examining all the requirements you need to hit can help you find an approach that improves efficiency and reduces costs.
Having an operational execution call with the team handling your business can be a good way to check that everyone is on the same page.
Review previous performance
While this year is expected to look different than years past, it may be beneficial to review previous peak seasons to see what areas you need to focus on with your logistics provider. Have you struggled with restocking? Are your products going to be displayed in a new location like an endcap or point-of-purchase display? Knowing what’s changing this year and where you’ve seen success and failure in the past can help you have a successful peak season.
Talk through any concerns you have with your provider so you both know what to expect.
Want to get ahead of peak season shipping challenges? ArcBest can help
The holidays can be stressful for both your personal and business lives, but logistics processes don’t have to add to that stress. Partner with a provider that understands your business needs and has the knowledge and network to meet them.
As a logistics company with assets, ArcBest is equipped to help you source capacity for your holiday freight and get your shipments delivered on time and intact. Learn more about our solutions here.