Keep Calm and Ship On: How to Survive the Holiday Surge

Keeping up with the huge volume, breakneck pace, and sky-high customer expectations of the holiday season is never easy. And this year, the pandemonium is kicking up a notch: Deloitte predicts a 5% increase in consumer sales, which explains why FedEx and UPS are adding 95,000 seasonal hires to help handle the surge.

Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on deliveries this time of year. When a company’s freight doesn’t reach its destination in time for the holiday rush, that means lost profits and frustrated clients. These are some of the ways to manage the madness, mishaps, and (hopefully!) magic that the holiday season has in store for shippers who feel the crunch.

Consider the “What if?” scenarios beforehand

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. It’s a philosophy that many shippers are already familiar with, but it bears repeating during the holiday season. Smart companies are looking back at last year’s inventory and sales during this time to better forecast what will be happening this year in terms of shipment volumes, order frequency, and delivery destinations. They lay out multiple contingency plans for delays or other issues that inevitably crop up. This proactive approach can be invaluable when things get crazy as the month moves on.

Brush up on package handling best practices

As the stress of the holiday season heats up, it’s a natural possibility for quality control to slacken as logistics departments and distribution centers rush to keep up. Which is why now is a particularly good time for companies to give their teams a refresher on package handling best practices. Whether it’s high level like what guidelines to follow to avoid over- or under-packing, more down to earth like how to most efficiently stack and shrink wrap palettes, sharing helpful reminders of best practices can go a long way to avoiding damages due to carelessness or ignorance.

Take time to properly onboard seasonal help

Many companies hire part-time seasonal help to meet holiday demand. Often, these workers can lack experience precisely when it’s needed. Sometimes transitory employees aren’t thinking as much about the end-to-end process, because ultimately they don’t deal with the end customer. Taking the time to properly onboard these part-timers before the storm hits is a solid investment. Not only to establish clear expectations and processes but also to help them connect emotionally to the work they’re doing—a reminder that there’s a real human at the end of every shipment might motivate a temporary employee to put in a little extra effort that makes all the difference.

Proactively communicate with the client

Despite best efforts, sometimes things go wrong. Shipments are damaged. Planes are delayed. Trucks face weather and routing issues. When this happens, the most successful shippers don’t focus on the problem—but the solution. That begins by quickly and clearly communicating with the customer, keeping them informed at all times. Even during the holidays, customers can be surprisingly forgiving if they’re dealt with directly and kept in the loop—telling them what happened, why, and how the company is working to resolve the issue.

Care is the most important delivery

No one is safe from the chaos of the holiday season. But these best practices can help anybody stay calm, collected, and deliver the most successful holiday shopping season possible. We know because, for 60 years, we’ve partnered with companies all over the world to give them the logistics tools, support, and insights they need to run a tight shipping operation all year round. Get in touch to learn more about how we can work together.

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