Shipping times and rates for freight shipping go through predictable seasonal fluctuations. Understanding the fright shipping calendar can help you control your costs and ensure that your shipments make it to their destination in plenty of time.
If your products are not perishable and deliveries are not especially time sensitive, there are several ways you can leverage the freight shipping calendar to your advantage. Here are six strategies to help you control your costs and avoid unexpected shipment delays.
Avoiding Delays and Controlling Costs During Peak and Holiday Freight Season
- Ship early. If you have non-perishable items that need to get to their destination before the holiday season, shipping before the height of peak season will save significant money. Of course, this will have to be balanced with other considerations such as production schedules, warehousing costs, and the ability of the receiver to handle an early shipment.
- Ship late. If your items do not have to arrive before the holidays, consider scheduling your shipments after the first of the year when there is a surplus of unused freight shipping capacity. You're more likely to get a better deal at this time of the year.
- Allow for extra time during peak season. If you must ship during peak season or holiday season, make sure you allow plenty of time for your products to get to their destination. Carriers often overbook during peak season, much as airlines do. If you have products that have tight delivery timelines, expect to pay a premium for guaranteed delivery during this window.
- Shop around. Prices can fluctuate widely from carrier to carrier and from day to day. Recheck prices and renegotiate often.
- Look for deals on less popular options. Time is money in the freight shipping business, and if your deliveries are not time sensitive you may be able to snag a good deal without sacrificing too much in shipment times. The difference between a 15-day delivery time and 20-day delivery time may be significant. LTL carriers may give price breaks to customers who give them much-needed flexibility in arranging their loads and delivery times this time of year.
- Stagger shipments. If everything doesn't HAVE to get there at once, it may make sense to pay for a small portion of your total shipment to arrive faster with guaranteed delivery and then let the bulk of it arrive later by a slower, cheaper method. This can work well if, for example, you need to restock raw materials—get just enough delivered by a fast method to keep the lines humming in the short term, and let the rest of your needed inventory come in on a staggered basis.
The next few weeks will be busy ones for all sectors of the shipping industry, from parcel post to LTL and FTL freight. If you have deliveries that can wait for the new year, you might want to avoid the hustle and bustle. And start making plans now to strategize your shipments in 2019 to take advantage of the freight shipping calendar.