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March 9, 2022

Dedicated Capacity: Air Freight Predictability for the E-Commerce Boom

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As supply chains adapt to the pandemic and other market forces, air freight is evolving in significance.

The rapid growth of e-commerce brands requires timely and predictable arrival of inventory during a time when air freight capacity is still far lower than it was in 2019, before the onset of the Covid pandemic.

One way around the crunch to avoid being at the mercy of market forces, is to rely on dedicated air freight capacity. At Flexport, charters and air cargo partnerships supplement high-frequency commercial flights to help preserve on-time performance and ensure against offloads.

Read on to learn more about how dedicated capacity can help drive predictability for your supply chain and logistics.

Keep Up with Ecommerce Growth

U.S. e-commerce sales are expected to cross $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. An Insider Intelligence report indicates that prior to the pandemic, this milestone wasn’t on the radar until 2024.

The speed of this growth can be disconcerting, because it raises the stakes. If you can determine a predictable logistics mix, your sales figures could be up, up, and away. Miss the opportunity and business could crash.

Apparel brands—and their seasonal inventory—are still expected to realize extraordinary sales volumes, too. Even if consumer demand were to shift from goods to services in Q2, fashion brands will need to be prepared for the demand frenzy to continue.

Fortunately, apparel and many other types of e-commerce goods are more volumetric than heavy. This is where new industry solutions start to emerge and change the traditional product offerings and modal mix for freight buyers.

For example, Flexport’s newly-expanded partnership with Eastern Air secures dedicated capacity from Asia to the U.S. on B777 Express Freighters.

This is an entirely new type of plane, designed specifically for these types of low-weight goods.

Eastern has converted the main deck cabin of the passenger widebody B777 into a true cargo aircraft. Once available to book, Flexport clients can count on this dedicated capacity to transport volumetric cargo with predictability, speed and cost efficiency.

“These freighters will dramatically lower transit times by directly connecting capacity-starved origins like Ho Chi Minh (SGN) with the U.S. Midwest, where the majority of e-commerce distribution hubs are based,” shares Neel Jones Shah, EVP and Global Head of Airfreight at Flexport.

And with faster logistics locked down, it’s easier to focus on the long-term growth opportunities of an e-commerce boom.

End-to-End Insights for Air Freight

You can also extend the benefits of dedicated air freight capacity to better align the rest of your supply chain.

Using Flexport Order Management, companies can gain insight into which SKUs are most important to business continuity and growth.

For apparel, electronics, or other products with steep demand curves, this light discovery process is just a few clicks away in the Flexport Platform and can help guide investment decisions:

Only ship your top 10 to 15 SKUs via air charter to ensure timely delivery and mitigate the risks of a volatile logistics market. Optimize the rest of your modal mix based on seasonality, profit margins, shipment rates, and expected transit times.

For periods of high consumer demand or when inventory is dangerously low, you may be able to use the visibility of the Flexport Platform to sell goods still in the sky. That’s because dedicated capacity keeps inventory moving, while real-time milestone tracking lets you know which goods are where at any time. With a little attention, you can time inventory, marketing and sales precisely.

For more on how dedicated air capacity can help your fast-growth business, reach out to Flexport.

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