‘Tis the Season: Implement Your Holiday Shipping Strategy

‘Tis the Season: Implement Your Holiday Shipping Strategy

Between non-working days, heavy demands for shipments, weather delays and other challenges, it’s no surprise that the holidays can be an especially hectic time for small and midsize businesses. Seasonal spikes, weather events and unexpected circumstances often cause a ripple effect throughout the supply chain. But with a bit of foresight and strategic planning, there’s no reason the bustling season should hinder your customer service efforts and productivity.

Here are some ways you can organize an efficient and less stressful end-of-year shipping operation for your business.

Plan for challenges. How susceptible is your business to disruptions caused by supplier or manufacturing operations failures, workforce unavailability and technology troubles that can threaten your ability to make customer deliveries? Consider developing some “what-if” scenarios for potential challenges and assess your ability to respond and overcome the events.

Alert your carrier of changes in your own operation. A large increase or decrease in your shipping volume, adjustments in operating hours or a significant volume shift in shipping services, such as from ground to air, could affect your driver’s handling of your pickup. “If you let your driver know ahead of time, we can prepare for your changes,” says Donnie Nunley, package planning manager for UPS®.

Ship early when possible. Plan ahead for varying holiday operating hours and potential weather delays. Although most major shippers make every effort to deliver holiday ground shipments with the same transit times as the rest of the year, there’s no guarantee that ground shipments during the two weeks before Christmas will arrive as usual due to unusually high volume. A good rule of thumb is to allow seven business days for ground shipments during those last two weeks, particularly for long distances. The UPS Time and Cost Calculator can give you a fairly precise indication of how long it will take based on ZIP Codes.

Have packages ready at pickup time. “Our drivers aren’t going home each night until their trucks are empty,” admits Jim Dunn, UPS corporate industrial engineering manager. “So it helps your driver and all the other folks along the route if pickups are ready to go when your driver arrives.”

Package wisely. It always makes good sense to package your shipments to avoid damages en route, but it’s especially important during peak season, when shippers’ processing facilities and delivery vehicles are operating at high capacity. To help ensure your wares are well-prepared for their journey and will arrive at customer sites unharmed, only reuse boxes that are like new. The strength of a carton with a crease or tear can be reduced up to 70 percent. And, remember to “right size” your packaging for the item you are sending. This can save tremendously on shipping costs.

For more shipping strategies to help your small or midsize business stay ahead of potential issues this holiday season, visit Holiday Shipping in 2015. Remember, we’re always here to help you with your shipping logistics and best practices.