How can logistics companies prepare for peak season
VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It is a popular piece of management jargon that essentially relates to unpredictable, challenging situations. Unsurprisingly, use of the acronym has skyrocketed in 2020.
We are, of course, living through “unprecedented” events. Indeed, throughout this period it is apparent that the majority of business leaders and consumers alike value practical advice as to how to overcome the challenges they are facing.
This is particularly true in the world of shipping, transport and logistics during ‘peak season’; it is these sectors’ busiest time of the year, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and festive shopping resulting in a huge spike in ecommerce activity, in turn placing strain on delivery systems globally.
In 2020, peak season will be more intense still due to COVID-19, which has affected supply chains – the ease and speed at which goods can get from A to B. Many carriers, warehouses, customs offices and distribution centres are running at limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions.
So, the question is, how can logistics companies adequately prepare for peak season to minimise disruption and ensure their clients’ deliveries are made on time?
With an overwhelming number of retailers requiring logistical services, it can be easy for companies to overcommit to the clients. And without adequate resources, companies may fail to keep up with deliveries and, consequently, cause the quality of their service to decline.
So, it is important to make preparations for this, and consider making seasonal hires in order to cope with the influx of service demand.
It will also be beneficial to analyse activities and demand from previous years, to anticipate how many additional hires are required and where their resource should be allocated. A buffer should be placed on top of this, given online shopping is likely to rise in 2020 as people are confined to their own homes.
Investing in greater resource will enable firms to build operations that are able to withstand the pressures of peak season. This is something we have done at One World Express – we have increased the number of staff and delivery vans we have available during peak season, as well as taking on more warehouse space to ensure goods can be stored, processed and delivered on time.
Learn from past mistakes
When planning for the future, one of the most important steps is to learn from past mistakes. So, it is vital that teams constantly review and analyse past performances and understand how elements can be improved.
For example, some logistics companies may experience frustrating delays in delivery due to border checks when shipping internationally. So, they will need to factor these issues – which are likely to be seasonal and related to spikes in trading activity – into their offering.
Alternatively, lines of communication could prove to be an issue for some companies, such as failure to inform clients of potential hinderances to a delivery. So, logistics businesses might consider new channels of client communication; this could be anything from automatic tracking updates, to regular emails and calls from courier teams.
Of course, every logistics company is different, and will have different areas that require focus. The key is to regularly review and evaluate their service, to understand how they can improve their service throughout peak season. Moreover, they must then relay information to their clients as often as possible – this avoid unexpected surprises and ensure online retailers, for example, only promise shoppers what can actually be delivered.
Today, the logistics sector is able to offer a variety of sophisticated tech-based offerings to clients. For example, at One World Express, we are particularly proud of our SmartTrack software, which enables our clients to easily manage every aspect of their shipping journey, from label creation to track and trace.
Of course, many retailers will be dependent on such high-tech services throughout peak season. So, it is vitally important that these systems are running smoothly; companies must conduct rigorous testing on their software on a regular basis to ensure it can handle increased usage throughout peak season.
What’s more, firms must have contingency plans in place. So, if for some unforeseeable reason the software momentarily fails, there are ways in which our clients can manage their deliveries without causing hinderance to their business, while the issue is being fixed.
Peak season is certainly an exciting time for the logistics sector. However, it is important adequate preparations are made to ensure teams do not buckle under the pressure.