Save Money with These Holiday Shipping Tips for Small Businesses
Hectic holidays can mean stockouts, lost profits, and no end to stress. Navigate around capacity shortages and last-minute emergencies with our tried-and-true shipping tips that help small businesses during the busiest times of the year.
When is the best time to start planning shipments for the holidays?
Truth be told, it’s nearly impossible to start planning too early—at latest, August is the month of choice for the holiday season. When it comes to other big holidays throughout the year, you can use the sales data of previous years to help you plan for periods of high demand. At the end of the day, making plans well ahead of time will help you avoid the headache of suddenly needing expensive, expedited shipments to meet inventory needs.
Avoid stockouts 101
It’s always important to stay vigilant and organized when it comes to keeping products stocked, and this is especially true of the holiday season. Stockouts mean lower profits but can also damage the satisfaction and loyalty of your customers when they need your products the most.
Check in with your vendors
With buyers starting to make more and more purchases early for the holiday season, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the supplies and materials you’ll need from your vendors ahead of time.
Prepare for delays due to weather
Severe weather can have a big impact on your supply chain during the holidays. Planning out as far as possible will provide a buffer for potential weather delays. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so making sure that products can make it those last few miles is critical. Keep docks and parking lots clear and clean to help decrease the possibility of delivery delays.
Allow additional time for shipping ‘extras’
Freight accessorial services are defined as anything that falls outside of dock-to-dock transportation. Common examples of these include liftgates, delivering to non-commercial locations, and inside pickup/delivery. If your shipment includes any freight accessorial services that could impact the speed at which shipments are handled, plan accordingly.
Double check the hours of your shipment’s delivery location
Business hours can change with little warning during the holidays, so it’s important to ensure that your delivery location will be open on the day of your shipment’s delivery. Unexpected delays and additional fees may arise if your shipment arrives when the delivery location is closed.
Avoid confusion and unexpected delays with these shipping basics
During the holidays, carrier capacity is often constrained to a frustrating degree, and this can be made even tighter by other needs. If you work with a smaller carrier, for example, the available capacity will likely be lower. Extra accessorial services can also tighten what capacity is available for shipments. Here are a few extra tips to avoid common mistakes:
Guaranteed shipping does not mean guaranteed delivery
Guaranteed shipping with a carrier ensures that your order will be shipped within the time specified—but there’s an important distinction here that can be confusing. The guaranteed timeframe does not begin until a shipment is picked up. What does this mean? Let’s say you planned for a shipment to be picked up on Monday with a guaranteed two-day delivery on Wednesday. If a snowstorm prevents the pickup on Monday and the pickup is on Tuesday instead, your delivery will arrive on Thursday, still meeting the guaranteed two-day delivery time. Keep these details in mind when using guaranteed shipping.
LTL shipping is not the same as parcel shipping
While LTL shipments and parcels can easily be determined by size (parcel shipments are smaller), the process for shipping them is different. This is because LTL shipments are often secured by pallets and are large enough to be placed in a space that allows for less risk of potential damage. Parcel and LTL carriers have different additional charges to consider, so plan accordingly when choosing the best way to ship your products.
Partner with an expert
Partner with Inland Transport, Inc. for fast and reliable solutions during the busy holiday season. Use us to compare preferred carriers and services for all your shipping needs. If you have questions, our customer support team can help!