The pandemic hasn’t ended—and shipping challenges haven’t either

Published on September 21, 2021

What you can do now to minimize shipping challenges and keep your products and parts transported from here to there between now and Christmas

The board game is called “The Worst-Case Scenario Card Game,” and Florida game inventor, Eric Poses, is facing what seems like cataclysmic problems trying to get manufacturers in China to make and ship the product. He has already placed an order for his next shipping container full of the games, but the cost has risen from about $6,000 to $35,000- nearly six times the original price – because of rail and trucking issues.

The situation is one of many real-life situations reported in the New York Times about what the paper calls “The Great Supply Chain Disruption.” The article offers an overview of debacles involving delays, product shortages and rising costs that so far have no end in sight.

Some of the factors exacerbating the situation include material and worker shortages; rising prices of ocean freight, and the increasing need to use more expensive shipping by air; the surge of COVID-19 infections; overwhelmed trucking networks; and the latest FedEx delivery cuts and price hikes.

In the meantime, ecommerce continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down. So, what can you do to go from the worst-case scenario to the best situation possible under the circumstances? These five tips can help you navigate shipping challenges through the unrelenting pandemic:

Try tags

More companies are using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags to handle the growth of ecommerce and improve labor efficiency and traceability. Prices for the tags have dropped 80% while providing the following in-store benefits: 99% inventory accuracy, 60%-80% stockout reduction, 2%-12% sales lift and 10% shrink reduction.

Prepare now for the peak season

Freightwaves reports shipping prices are up 63% from two years ago and the congestion isn’t likely to ease until at least 2022. Work with your supply chain supplier now to identify routing alternatives and build multicarrier solutions.

Multiply distribution points

Utilize your supply chain supplier to leverage partnerships and begin using distribution centers located strategically around the country. This strategy can help ensure orders are fulfilled affordably, accurately, timely and safely.

Parcel strategy

Institute a parcel strategy to reduce transportation and transit times. Many companies use UPS and FedEx, but adding USPS into the mix can produce significant savings with the right strategy. This case study for an anti-aging skincare company shows how the business saved  $1 million by eliminating hidden fees while speeding up Direct-To-Customer (DTC) deliveries.

Reconsider packaging

Change packaging to reduce parcel costs. According to this IBIS World report, the cardboard and box container industry continues to achieve record revenues. Packaging can be designed so it is smaller in size to reduce both manufacturing and shipping costs.

Christmas is now less than 100 days away. These shipping challenges can be especially hard on small and midsized shippers. It is critical to have a supply chain partner to help you navigate challenges and create solutions so the Grinch can’t ruin Christmas for your company or customers.

Casey Adams is a contributor to Grit Daily News and the President at Visible Supply Chain Management, the industry leader in shipping and fulfillment services for supply chain management. During this role, he has escalated Visible’s growth trajectory— increasing market value by 400%—all without tapping the well of private equity and with minimal bank funding. Casey began work at Pro Star (now Visible Supply Chain Management) as inside council in 2011 and became President in 2013. Casey has enjoyed helping clients and watching the business grow by keeping his perspective fresh and strategies unique. Casey appreciates the importance of teamwork, and firmly believes that working collectively has a more substantial impact than going it alone. Adams received his Bachelor of Science in economics from Brigham Young University and later his law degree from the University of Utah. Adams has been featured in articles by Forbes, American, Utah Business Magazine, and Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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