As a retail shipper or carrier, you may initiate preparing for freight elevation season ahead of the times of most people. Planning ahead of peak times goes a long way to ensure that you manage the excessive demands efficiently. 

Let us delve into some ideas on how you can be best prepared for the peak season freight shipping. 

1. Plan Ahead

Shipping peak season freight has a lot to do with timing and it is best done ahead of time. Carriers generally have cut-off dates and winter times can lead to more worsened and unpredictable times. Shippers may require a buffer of a minimum few weeks. Final taxes also spike in peak seasons and shipping early is the optimal strategy to avoid fees. 

To ensure early shipping, you need to gather data from the previous year, and the more years of data you have, the better. Historical information on orders and shipment timelines from previous years can help you forecast how much inventory you will need to ship to different locations. With this information, you can start planning as early as January or February, well before the freight peak season begins in August.

2. Stagger Shipments

Shipping products at different times can be more efficient than shipping everything at once. For high-priority or perishable products that need to reach faster, shippers may need to use more expensive freight options. However, for products that don’t require immediate delivery, using more affordable modes or waiting until off-peak freight delivery can be a better option.

Staggering shipments can also mean holding them at a warehouse, distribution centre, or port until you have complete data on where they need to go. This way, you can avoid having too much product in one location and not enough in another.

3. Pool Shipments

If you frequently send a large amount of goods to the same customer and location, it might be worthwhile to consolidate your shipments to improve efficiency. You can either wait until you have enough freight for a full truckload (TL) or use volume freight, which is perfect for shipping pallets that are too large for less than a truckload (LTL) but not big enough for a TL. This will help you save time and money.

Another option is to use retail consolidation, which is a popular strategy during peak seasons. It involves multiple suppliers working together to combine their shipments to a specific retailer. This method can help you save money and improve efficiency as well.

4. Use Shipping Insurance

During the peak season of freight, both suppliers and carriers experience increased pressure due to the rise in customer demand, leading to a surge in shipping volume. Unfortunately, during this period, freight may sometimes get lost or damaged, with 86% of LTL shippers experiencing damaged freight. 

As per our 2022 study, OTIF fees are costing shippers an average of $253,198. However, carriers’ liability limits may not always cover the costs of lost or damaged freight. To mitigate such risks, it is advisable for shippers to protect their freight with shipping insurance, particularly for high-value, perishable, or time-sensitive products.

5. Leverage technology

Tech-driven freight shipping can be a huge help, especially during the peak season. To improve your efficiency, you can use a transportation management system (TMS) to plan your day-to-day operations, optimize your routes, track quotes and shipments, and keep records. Another useful tool is a load board, which can benefit both shippers and carriers. Shippers can easily post loads and get their goods delivered quickly, while carriers can find and book high-value loads and reduce deadhead miles. 

6. Stay Flexible

Even with the best planning, you may encounter obstacles during the peak season of freight transportation. However, you can avoid stress by staying flexible. If possible, choose longer transit times and more flexible shipping modes. Plan ahead to take advantage of the best rates and deals. For instance, if you can be flexible about your load size and delivery times, you can get better rates from LTL carriers.

For more such information, read the other blogs of Victory Freight