Holiday Season Shipping Tips for the Supply Chain Industry

It’s that time of year again! The holiday season brings with it tidings of good cheer, the smell of spruce in the air, and peak holiday shipping. With the significant rise of eCommerce over the last decade, each year the holiday shipping season surpasses the year prior. But along with fruitcakes, holiday cards, and goodies from friends and family near and far, there are also shipping headaches that bring on holiday malaise for both customers and businesses.

What is Peak Holiday Shipping?

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is considered “Peak Holiday Shipping.” Last year alone, FedEx projected a volume of more than 380-400 million packages for delivery during this roughly 40-day period. This time of year is when demand is highest and price and risk rise due to a high influx of shopping activity mixed with inclement weather conditions. In addition to expected issues, this year we’ve also seen an uptick in storm activity with Hurricane Michael in mid-to-late October and with the California wildfires in November. These environmental factors greatly impact the shipping network, especially so close to peak season.

Holiday Shipping: Supply vs Demand

So, why the all the fuss when it comes to holiday shipping? Not only is there more volume to ship, but demand is higher with more suppliers entering the eCommerce space each year. Also, be sure to consider last-minute shoppers make up 30% of the online shopping season and consumers expect faster shipping times thanks to the “Amazon Effect.” Carriers respond to this demand by trying to fit as much as possible onto their trailers. This pressure and push to move more quickly (and with limited space) can lead to damage and missing shipments. In fact, damage is a real concern and happens more than you may realize. According to a survey by Small Business Trends, 20% of customers return products due to damage. That’s right, 20%!! To prevent these holiday shipping issues from eroding customer experience and the bottom-line, the best way to deal with the season is to follow the old adage that “The best offense is a strong defense.”

Best Practices: Tips for Shipping

At Langham Logistics, we know that history is the best teacher. When we notice claims, we check into the cause and adjust our own processes to reduce instances in the future. Here are a few of the best practices we follow when shipping:

  1. Start with foundation. Be sure you are using a sturdy enough box, corner boards, and sheeting above and below the product being shipped. This prevents any unfortunate fall-outs or product damage mid-shipment.
  2. Create a cushion. To protect goods, be sure to use generous banding and cushioning on the inside. Also, fill the space so products don’t get jostled due to bumps and thumps often experienced during shipping.
  3. Create stickiness. Do a little test on glue, tape, and labels. Be sure to use high-quality supplies so boxes don’t become orphans due to label loss and they “keep it together” thanks to strong tape this holiday season.
  4. Label properly. Make sure all cartons are labeled properly so they can be rejoined if separated. Be sure to give the full details and not just a number on a shipment. Include all information and be sure to label each carton of a multi-carton order:  “5 of 21” for example.

At Langham Logistics, we keep best practices in mind as your partner. We carefully inspect shipping containers to make sure they are the right fit for the job. We also review shipments prior to shipping to head-off any issues before they happen. We know that starting with shipping best practices, even the simplest things like using the right box, helps shipping run smoothly and create winning customer experiences. Contact us for more information.

You might also like:

Three Things to Consider When Creating a Custom Shipping Practice
Three Investments Worth Considering in 2019 to Keep Your Company Competitive