Preparations for peak, when shipping e-commerce orders overseas, must be all-encompassing, with data insights taking centre stage, writes Marie Barrance, Sales Director, Asendia UK.
In the bustling landscape of the Golden Quarter, success hinges on collaboration. Retailers with hard-won overseas customers cannot afford to disappoint at Christmas. They must plan with their logistics partners well in advance, to cope with longer distances for parcel deliveries, and higher risks of transit and customs bottlenecks at this unpredictable, and frenetically busy time of year.
For 3PLs, it pays to adopt a proactive approach that involves the early arrangement of bulk service agreements with retail clients. More than a mere transaction, this lays the foundation for a powerful partnership based on transparency, shared objectives, and meticulous preparation.
At Asendia UK we encourage our retail and brand clients to share forecasts and marketing strategies in early autumn so that we can tailor to their seasonal needs. We then craft each client a tailor-made “peak pack,” ensuring strategic alignment that not only smooths operations but also provides a competitive edge in an unpredictable market.
Optimising air freight for timely deliveries
As freight rates surge in the second half of the year, securing the best carrier rates becomes paramount. It’s advisable for retailers to work with logistics partners capable of bulk-booking early. This not only optimises costs but ensures timely air freight, meeting the high demand for swift cross-border e-commerce parcel deliveries during the festive season.
Pre-empting customs congestion for efficient clearances
Customs clearance can be a potential bottleneck in the peak parcel delivery process. It is possible to avoid congestion by ensuring all necessary documentation is in order well in advance. This foresighted approach not only expedites the clearance process but also minimises the risk of delays, contributing to the overall efficiency of the supply chain. Service-oriented logistics partners will advise on customs processes and pinch-points throughout the season. They will also have contingency plans in place, and ideally be set up with Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) accreditation from HM Revenue & Customs, which will significantly speed up and streamline export operations.
Flexibility: The key to inland delivery efficiency
Flexibility should be a cornerstone of a 3PL’s peak international shipping strategy. When parcels are destined for inland delivery, being flexible about the port or airport of discharge opens more options. While this might result in a slightly longer transit time, the increased flexibility allows for better decision-making in selecting the most efficient delivery lane. This approach ensures adaptability, a crucial factor in the dynamic landscape of peak season logistics.
Data-driven forecasting: Anticipating peaks with precision
Understanding demand patterns and market trends is crucial for successful peak season logistics. We encourage our retail clients to share historical data and market insights, laying the groundwork for meticulous data analysis. By employing advanced analytics tools, it’s possible to identify patterns, seasonal fluctuations, and emerging consumer preferences. This data-driven approach allows for the creation of accurate forecasts, enabling businesses to anticipate peak periods with more and more precision.
This foresight not only facilitates better resource allocation by the retailer, it also ensures that the 3PL’s warehouse operations are aligned with the anticipated surge in demand.
Real-time monitoring: Navigating unforeseen challenges
While forecasting sets the stage for peak season preparedness, real-time monitoring is equally important for troubleshooting unforeseen challenges. Asendia UK leverages advanced tracking and monitoring systems that provide real-time visibility into the cross-border supply chain. This allows for immediate identification of potential disruptions, such as delays in transit, customs clearance issues, or unexpected spikes in demand. The ability to troubleshoot issues as they arise ensures a proactive response, minimising the impact on delivery timelines.
Placing data at the forefront of your peak season strategy is the key to accurate forecasting, live troubleshooting, and continuous improvement year-on-year.
In an industry where agility and adaptability are paramount, data insights serve as a guiding light, allowing retail businesses to navigate the complexities of peak season logistics with confidence and precision.