From August to December, customer sales explode and peak season hits the transportation industry. Primarily driven by the holidays, with back to school shopping also playing a part, shipping volumes are so high that trucks flood the roadways to fulfill the demand. Being so busy is a good thing, but this do-or-die time of year adds a lot of pressure to shippers. Release that pressure valve by staying aware, and ahead, of these trends:
1. New Tactics For Temps
Many businesses ramp up operations for peak season by hiring temporary workers to help meet the demand. The problem: It’s competitive to attract the best employees and once they’re on board, it can be difficult to train them during such a hectic time. To address these challenges, companies are starting to hire temporary workers earlier in the year and luring them with signing bonuses, increased pay rates, and other incentives like free meals. Training these workers has also evolved and now prioritizes efficiency—instead of teaching everyone to do everything, the focus is on task-specific training. Each worker is trained to specialize on one or two things, which takes less time and effort.
2. Better Demand Management
Every business that forms a link in the supply chain has to manage demand with clockwork precision during peak season. To adapt to demand fluctuations and maximize asset utilization, companies are renting flexible warehouse space, adding pop-up hubs, and adding more times and days of service (such as weekend and late-night deliveries). Solutions like these are designed to be temporary measures to handle the increased volume, without adding long-term cost to the shipper.
3. Increased Cargo Theft
It won’t surprise anyone to hear that cargo is at a higher risk for theft during the holidays. As we just mentioned, shippers are going to lengths to make deliveries on time, which can lead to goods being left unattended during off hours and on weekends. Cargo theft surges during the holiday season, with the riskiest times being the month of October, as goods flood stores in preparation for Black Friday, and weekends. Shippers and transportation companies are bearing more responsibility to increase security—both in physical locations like warehouses and virtual locations such as blockchain technology systems. As cargo thieves become more sophisticated, so must shippers to protect their goods.
4. Heightened Trade TensionsThe phrase “trade war” has been worrying the transportation industry for months. The uncertain future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the tariffs levied against China (at the time this article published, proposed new duties would add $200 billion in tariffs to the $50 billion already imposed on Chinese goods), and the increasing trade tensions with other trade partners present a threat to trucking, freight, and logistics companies. Retail sales remain strong and the average consumer likely will not see any effects on their wallet for a few months, but some carriers are beginning to cut capacity in preparation. The capacity withdrawals, particularly on transpacific routes, mean shippers need to be hyper-vigilant when forecasting for this peak season.
From theft to tariffs, your cargo needs to be protected. Learn more about limiting your risk during peak shipping season.