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Peak Shipping Part 1: FAQs

by EasyPost
Person in warehouse scanning barcode on shelf

We know what you’re thinking: it’s July, why are we already talking about peak shipping season? The holiday season will be here before we know it, and whether you’re exploring trucking capacity, freight shipping, or looking for a multi-carrier shipping API, it’s better to start preparing as early as possible.

Without proactivity, your business may get hit with frustrating peak shipping surcharges due to increased demand, creating a domino effect on your shipping strategy. Customers will feel the effects of this unpreparedness firsthand, damaging your reputation and leaving much to be desired from a shipping perspective.

Marketing promotions, inventory planning, and successfully delivering timely packages all boils down to having a solid parcel shipping strategy.

Here are some frequently asked questions surrounding the busiest time of the shipping industry with helpful answers that can guide your ecommerce business toward success in 2021 and beyond.

When is peak shipping season 2021?

This depends on specific market conditions, but August through October is considered the peak months in the transportation and logistics industry. During this time, retail businesses begin gearing up for both the back-to-school season and the holiday season.

As you can imagine, freight rates increase and truck capacity is tight during these months, and shippers have to pay higher spot rates.

Why is peak shipping season important?

More packages mean more vehicles, more workers, and more costs involved throughout the shipping and logistics process. Although the stakes are high during this time, the rewards can be fruitful, as you can attract the attention of new customers while solidifying your position as a trustworthy vendor to current customers.

How did COVID-19 impact the shipping process or impact peak surcharge rates?

Industries are still playing catch up on inventory recovery while grappling with high consumer demand. Carriers never had the chance to catch their breath this year as they are still trying to get up to speed in the wake of major pandemic shipping delays. Capacity constraints are already high, so the immediate transition into peak shipping season means companies need to find a flexible, reliable logistics partner as soon as possible.

How big will the shipping surcharges be this year?

Specific surcharges depend on each carrier. See below for an example.

Depending on the volume of packages you shipped during any week after February of 2020, surcharges this year may be as high as $6.15 per package. Other shippers may see an uptick of $1.15 to $2.15 per package based on the volume shipped after the pandemic.

Customers sending large packages (exceeds a combined length of 96 inches and girth of 140+ inches) will see rates rise by $40 per package starting July 4th with a jump from the current fee of $31.45. From Oct. 3rd through Jan. 15th, these same packages will jump to $60 per package, up to $10 from the 2020 holiday season.

As carriers start releasing official rates for the holiday season, we will keep you informed.

How can businesses prepare for the holiday rush?

A combination of tactics can help businesses navigate the most stressful and challenging time of the year. If possible, ship products before the peak shipping date to avoid surcharges. Staggering shipments are another method to get the most out of your shipping services. Shopping around through multiple carriers and checking back often on rates is always a good idea as well.

Diversification of your carrier mix is also beneficial in keeping costs as low as possible. Tapping into regional carriers can assist you in niche markets and deepen your shipping capabilities, while also reducing shipping costs and constraints.

How does technology play a role in peak shipping preparedness?

Ensuring that your shipping technology is stress-tested before peak shipping season can save you time and energy. For example, does your current shipping provider have reliable uptime? Through EasyPost’s modern shipping API, you can trust our uptime of 99.99 percent, ensuring you’ll always be able to print labels when needed.

Scalability is another huge factor that will determine your peak shipping success. If you’re currently struggling to ship your current volume, you’ll want to consider how you can keep up with demand come August.

How can previous shipping data help guide your shipping efforts?

Review your fulfillment and shipping data from last year’s peak shipping season. Consider how organized and efficient your warehouse and fulfillment activities were. Take into consideration what carriers performed the best and the percent of parcels that arrived on time. What were your shipping costs and what do you estimate them to be this year?

This data can reveal strengths and weaknesses in your approach and show you how to eliminate unnecessary costs in the future. Be sure to review your shipping contracts and work with carriers to negotiate new rates. Understand the refunds process for late deliveries and know when you’ll be able to claim these refunds and when you cannot.

How do you prepare for last-minute shoppers?

Familiarize yourself with holiday shipping deadlines to keep track of what shipments will arrive on time and what shipments will arrive after the holidays. Being transparent with your customers can help minimize letdowns.

If you ship a large number of items that are the same weight and package size, also consider batch shipping to save time and money.

EasyPost will continue to be your ultimate shipping partner during this upcoming peak season and many more to come.

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