7 Ways to Get Ahead of Peak Season Freight Shipping Delays

We're getting very close to peak shipping season, the time when volumes — and frustrations — can reach their highest levels of the year. The 2021 holiday shipping season is expected to see unprecedented amounts of freight crisscrossing the country, which means shippers are competing against greater shipping congestion and higher surcharges. Smart businesses need to be prepared and proactive to successfully steer through the seasonal surge.

To help you do just that, we've put together our top 7 holiday freight shipping tips to help small and mid-sized businesses get ahead of peak season freight delays and enjoy a smoother, less-stressful holiday season.

1. Consolidate shipments going to the same location

If you ship multiple items to the same customer, it can make a lot of sense to consolidate those shipments instead of sending them separately. Consolidated shipment benefits can include less chaos and congestion at loading docks; reduced risk of loss, damage and theft; lowered emission and fuel costs and speedier transit times.

2. Ship well-ahead of deadlines

Most carriers set and publish delivery deadlines during peak shipping season, and many carriers have reduced hours or are closed altogether on certain major holidays. Most carriers will not deliver items on Christmas, New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, for example.

The best way to cope with these deadlines and closures while also reducing the need for urgent overnight freight, is to check with your carriers on their peak season shipping schedules, and send your shipments soon enough to get to their destinations on time.

Besides carrier cutoff times, unpredictable weather conditions during the colder months are another compelling reason to ship earlier rather than later. Given the expected shipping volume for the 2021 peak season, we recommend giving yourself several weeks of buffer time if at all possible.

3. Save money with intermodal, volume and partial truckload shipping

During peak season, it can pay to think outside of the typical full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload (LTL) options when it comes to moving your products. Intermodal shipping (using multiple modes of transportation, such as trains and ships, without handling the freight) can lead to multiple benefits. These may include increased shipment security, reduced instances of loss or damage and increased speed.

Another time and money-saving option could be volume freight, which means moving larger shipments than standard less-than-truckload at lower costs than full truckload shipping. In addition, you could consider partial truckload shipping, which has some similarities to volume shipping but doesn't require your freight to be classified or palletized.

4. Consider using regional carriers instead of national

While your first inclination may be to use a freight carrier with national reach for all of your shipments, it's important to note that regional carriers can also be a good choice, depending on your shipping needs. Regional carriers, while smaller, are often more efficient than national carriers on shorter routes. This can translate into more options, lower costs and fewer holiday shipping delays.

5. Use the right transportation management system

Adding a well-designed transportation management system (TMS) to your shipping arsenal is one of the most effective time and money-saving moves you can make. The right TMS is a sophisticated software platform that gives you oversight and control of nearly every aspect of your shipping, from analyzing service options and getting quotes, creating accurate bills of lading, adding freight insurance on the fly, tracking shipments, generating return labels and much more.

6. Time your shipments before fuel price increases

One item in your shipping budget to always keep an eye on is the surcharge for fuel. This cost can fluctuate, but generally rises during the peak shipping season at the end of the year. Smart shippers will attempt to mitigate predicted holiday fuel price increases by scheduling their shipments as early in the season as possible.

7. Purchase shipping insurance to minimize damage and delay costs

With increased freight volume comes a higher likelihood of lost, damaged or delayed shipments. Assuming that a carrier's liability limits will cover the costs from one of these issues is a mistake far too many businesses make.

If your shipments are of reasonably high value, time-sensitive, perishable or consist of used goods, we recommend adding insurance. For pennies on the shipping dollar, you'll gain peace of mind that your peak season shipments are covered beyond carrier limits.

Worldwide Express: your perfect peak season partner

Now that you've learned some key holiday shipping tips, it's time to partner with the pros to execute on your successful peak season freight strategy. Worldwide Express has been on tens of thousands of customers' "nice lists" for decades, and our team of experts is standing by to help your business navigate alternative freight shipping opportunities throughout peak shipping season and beyond.

Give yourself the gift of smooth freight shipping this year through Worldwide Express! Get started with a no-commitment freight quote today.