Companies prepare for the summer shipping season in different ways depending on current customer demands, the transportation environment, and other outside factors. With the pandemic continuing to create complexities for supply chains around the globe—from container shortages to port congestion to high consumer demand—Home Depot is one organization that’s taking matters into its own hands.
As one of the largest U.S. importers, the company reserved its own ship. In July—right when the summer season kicks into full gear—it will start using it to move its own goods across the ocean. “We have a ship that’s solely going to be ours and it’s just going to go back and forth with 100% dedicated to Home Depot,” Ted Decker, COO, told CNBC. This marks the first time that the company has taken such a step, and it’s an indication of just how far retailers are willing to go to ensure capacity during what is sure to be a busy summer shipping season.
As we move into the summer months, shippers of all sizes and across most industries are also concerned about transporting their goods in the heat, when food, medicines, and other perishable items can quickly fall victim to the outdoor elements. Here are five steps that all shippers should be taking now to prepare for what’s expected to be an extremely busy summer shipping season:
- Kick things off with a good demand forecast. Using an analysis and prediction of future demand, you can effectively plan ahead and keep your production schedule flowing without any major disruptions. You’ll also have the time you need get the supplies, resources, and materials together to be able to manufacturer and/or fulfill your orders. Finally, good demand forecasting will support your company’s sales and promotional efforts, and help you decide where to budget your resources during the hot summer months.
- Factor in the temps. If your company sells temperature-sensitive items, the dog days of summer can take a toll on orders as they make their way across the country. To avoid losing cargo due to heat, you can ask your logistics provider about temperature-controlled shipping options, expedited shipping services like airfreight (for higher-value cargo), and full truckload shipping (more space, fewer stops, and the ability to specify refrigerated equipment).
- Secure temp-controlled capacity well in advance. Even pre-pandemic, finding temperature-controlled capacity in the middle of the summer was challenging. And while some products can be transported via dry van, carriers typically convert some of their fleet into refrigerated trailers specifically to meet shipper demand in the summer. Thanks to shifts in buying behaviors and an expected jump in U.S. global domestic product (GDP) this year, the situation may be more challenging than usual. For this and other reasons, you’ll want to work with your logistics provider to secure that temp-controlled capacity now versus later.
- Use heatproof packaging. Cold packs are miracle workers when it comes to keeping perishable products in good condition as they travel to their final destination. You can typically expect them to last between 24 to 48 hours, which is also perfect if you’re investing in fast shipping solutions like airfreight. “If you expect shipping to take longer, you can try cold shipping boxes,” ShipMonk “They’re designed to handle exposure to heat and protect your products for a longer period of time. They also come with a temperature indicator so you can rest easy knowing your products are as fresh as they can be.”
- Make sure carriers have temp-controlled cross-docking facilities. If you’re using less than truckload (LTL) carriers, your goods may make several stops on the way to their final destination. They may also be unloaded and reloaded numerous times. The last thing you want is for those cases of chocolate or pallets of food to be sitting out on the dock unattended for several hours. It’s not enough to ensure that the vehicles carrying your cargo are temp-controlled during the summer months; you also want to make sure that the facilities where your goods are going have similar capabilities.
As you plan out your busy summer shipping schedule, be sure to work with a reliable, reputable logistics provider that can connect you with the right capacity, equipment, and vehicles needed to get your goods from point A to point B in the freshest, coolest manner possible.
“Often unpredictable, extreme temperatures can take a toll on many different cargo types—from flowers to food to vaccines,” said Christoph Hemmann, Head of Air Product in Region Americas for DB Schenker. “This is the time of year that DB Schenker works hard to make sure all of our customers shipments reach their destinations in the best possible condition, and despite the heat.”