Cautious Optimism and Warranted Concerns: Supply Chain Leaders Look Ahead to Peak Shipping Season

With the holidays on the horizon, peak shipping season is fast approaching. That could spell good news for companies hoping to meet their sales targets after a turbulent year—if they can get their logistics strategy ironed out in time. Despite the challenges 2021 has thrown up, however, many supply chain leaders seem cautiously optimistic.

In an August 2021 survey of supply chain leaders and managers based in the U.S. conducted by GlobalTranz, three-quarters of respondents reported that they expect their peak shipping season revenue to be higher this year than it was in 2020. Considering that online shopping experienced a boom last year, that’s saying something. Leaders also noted that they feel their companies are more prepared to meet customer demands through this busy period and beyond.

This optimism is encouraging. But supply chain leaders are pragmatic by nature, and a few major concerns still loom large as peak shipping season gets underway.

COVID-19 resurgences keep supply chain leaders up at night

Even as some regions open up, others are heading back into local lockdowns as COVID-19 cases spike. At the same, fears about variants are rising. As a result, three out of four leaders surveyed say they’re worried that a COVID-19 resurgence will negatively impact their businesses’ supply chain operations—and more than half say that future lockdowns are a top challenge on their radar.

These concerns are certainly warranted. Government-mandated lockdowns could force facilities to pause operations at pivotal moments during the peak shipping season. And if even a handful of warehouse employees or drivers get sick or are exposed and need to quarantine, companies’ may struggle to meet customer demand, resulting in fresh backlogs.

Recruiting and retaining employees is only getting more challenging

Finding great supply chain talent has never been easy, but the “Great Resignation” has added a new layer of complication. With countless employees growing dissatisfied and restless, employers across all industries are paying top dollar to lure and retain talent—and the logistics sector is no exception. In fact, 47% of respondents say they’ll be paying higher salaries to combat this challenge before the end of the calendar year.

Workforce deficits could leave some companies on the back foot going into peak shipping season. And since it takes time to ramp new hires up to full productivity, it may be more effective for shippers to focus on retention efforts, at least until this hectic period has passed.

Enter peak shipping season with confidence

Optimism is important, but only when it’s balanced with a pragmatic approach. With so many challenges and changes rocking the industry, companies need to realistically evaluate their capacity and find support in critical areas. That’s why 94% of supply chain leaders surveyed noted that partnerships with supply chain or logistics companies are necessary to get through peak shipping season successfully.

At CTSI-Global, we’re committed to being true partners to every company we work with. We can provide the supply chain technology, industry expertise, and hands on deck required to keep your operations moving smoothly during peak shipping season—so you can meet customer demand and make more money.

Have your best holiday season ever. Contact us today.

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