In many areas of life, preparation is key — an idea that certainly applies to the best shipping during peak seasons, especially the holidays. Being well prepared can help you to avoid service issues and paying higher rates.
Extra Pieces in the Holiday Shipping Puzzle
During September through December and even into January, numerous factors are at play:
- With the holiday season, the most profitable time of year for many consumer product companies, production, and supply increase leading to more significant order fulfillment needs, yet
- It’s the holidays! A time when carriers typically offer their drivers reduced hours so they can spend time with their families, resulting in
- Attempting to handle more “time definite” shipments in narrower time frames, with fewer people; in other words, there is limited freight capacity, and as always
- Inclement seasonal weather can cause delays across the board
With these heightened factors comes a tendency for carriers to — pardon the pun — promise more than they can deliver. Yet issues like products not making it onto trucks and missing deliveries can lead to penalties from retailers and loss of sales.
Factors to Consider for the Best Shipping at the Holidays
Start with communication. Once you have determined how much freight you’ll be shipping, communicate with your transportation partners as far ahead as possible for guaranteed capacity and the best rates, as well as optimal pickup and delivery schedules. Factoring in extra time around critical dates and non-transit days can make it easier to work through any issues. Sometimes carrier schedules don’t quite line up with your own. Ask your transportation partners for the specifics of their holiday operations.
Have the following data ready when contacting partners for shipping quotes:
- Pickup and delivery dates and times
- Origin and destination city/state/ZIP codes
- Quantities and dimensions of pieces being shipped
- Total gross weight
- Cargo description
- Any special instructions (e.g., deliver inside or after hours, keep refrigerated)
Schedule around peak holiday rates. In addition to budgeting for increased shipping costs, ship before the higher rates go into effect whenever possible. And if your parcel volume is high enough, LTL shipping can be a cost-effective option.
Be sure orders are trackable. Options include GPS tracking used by drivers, trackers added to shipment pallets, and via a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS) such as 3PL Amware’s Amrate, which offers tracking and tracing for selected carriers along with many other features.
And be sure shipments are packaged correctly to keep freight intact! LTL shipments go onto pallets, get banded, stacked with heaviest on the bottom, and shrink-wrapped. Labels on all sides of the shipment should include complete information for the shipper and receiver, matching the bill of lading. Additional labels can be added for special instructions regarding stacking, etc.
Partnering with a 3PL like Amware can save you both time and money! After identifying the lowest cost carrier for your freight shipments, the newly updated TMS Amrate 7.0 platform then offers everything from shipment tracking and tracing, freight bill audit and payment, and customized reports to real-time carrier management and claims resolution. Additionally, Amrate consolidates all of your freight quotes.
To request a free trial of our newly updated Amrate 7.0, click below and start enjoying the best shipping for your LTL shipments today.