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Are You Prepared for the Unexpected? Logistics Experts Share Advice for Peak Season Success

September 30, 2022

Are You Prepared for the Unexpected? Logistics Experts Share Advice for Peak Season Success

JamieHurt headshot2

Jamie Hurt

Copywriter, Global Brand

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JamieHurt headshot2

Jamie Hurt

September 30, 2022

The pandemic, along with several other contributing factors like inflation, extreme weather, and labor shortages, continue to impact global supply chains.

Last year's peak season was rife with delays, missed delivery dates, ports congestion, and chaos. Some brands feel better prepared for this year but are they truly ready? What will the upcoming holiday season look like for retail and ecommerce brands. Will sales be up or down? How much of an impact will the recession have on consumer spending?

To shed some light on the subject, we asked 9 industry experts to share advice on navigating anything and everything that the upcoming Holiday Season may entail.

Peak Season Predictions: What Can We Expect for 2022?

Between current economic uncertainties, ports congestion, supply chain bottlenecks, and more, there are many unknowns around the upcoming holiday season. Just look at some of the contradictory market predictions below:

  • 29% of shoppers say they plan to spend more this holiday season than last (NPD)
  • 46% say they started their holiday shopping early last year. (NRF)
  • Nike reported net income for the three-month period ended Aug. 31 fell 22% to $1.5 billion, or 93 cents per share, compared with $1.87 billion, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier.
  • It’s expected that nearly 2 million more people will shop between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday this year over last. (NRF)
  • Walmart and Target brace for bleak season as consumers pull back on demand. Deloitte expects retailers will see slower volume gains this holiday season, from November through January, as a result of the U.S. economic slowdown.
  • Holiday sales are expected to reach $1.3 trillion this year, an increase of 3.3% over 2021. (eMarketer)

Clearly, nobody is confident about what's really going to happen. To help brands prepare for some potential challenges, we asked eight industry experts, “What’s going to be different this year that may impact supply, inventory, and/or consumer demand?”

In this business, it’s not a question of whether there will be another crisis, but when. The time to let down your guard is not yet—it never is for a logistics professional. - Bjorn Vang Jensen, VP Advisory Services - Global Supply Chain, Sea-Intelligence; Twitter: @bjornvangjensen; LinkedIn

Even though there's not going to be a peak, rates, shipping delays, and ports congestion will still exist for ocean. It's due to increased volume without the infrastructure to pick up. - Nathan Strang, Director Ocean Trade Lane Management, Flexport; Twitter: @NavyStrang; LinkedIn

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Consumer demand is definitely a top concern heading into peak season, with plenty of uncertainty around total demand in an inflationary environment, the right timing of promotions, and the expected consumer response to those promotions. Nate Skiver, Founder, LPF Spend Management;Twitter: @LPFJustWins; LinkedIn

Christmas ‘22 is going to throw ecommerce and retail brands for a loop. Due to the economy, consumers will delay holiday spending this year making inventory balancing a challenge that will nag shippers into the new year. Timothy Dooner, Host & Producer, WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Podcast Twitter: @TimothyDooner; LinkedIn

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For Air, the summer trend with volumes down -19% YoY is not representative of what the market will be longer term, it just reflects a combination of inventory surplus and new procurement policies being implemented. - Alexis Boutet, Senior Director of Airfreight Development, Flexport; LinkedIn

We will see a slight reduction in volumes this Peak Season compared to 2021, but market conditions most likely won't diminish consumer demand significantly. - Nicole Glenn, Founder & CEO, Candor Expedite; Twitter: @NicoleGlenn3019; LinkedIn

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Bracing for the Storm: Ways to Navigate the Unexpected

As notably stated by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. When it comes to preparing for peak season, companies must establish agile supply chains that can pivot and keep up with the unexpected.

We asked the experts, “Do you have any specific supply chain/logistics preparation recommended for a successful peak season? If not, do you have a tip or best practice for navigating unexpected challenges that may arise?”

Have a communication plan in place before any potential storms arise. You can add a prominent holiday FAQ guide to your website. Bonus points if you communicate shipping deadlines in advance. - Blythe Brumleve, Founder & Host, Digital Dispatch; Twitter: @blythebrum; LinkedIn

The three most important skills a logistics professional must have is being comfortable with ambiguity, accepting that change is the only constant, and being able to deal with people across organizations and companies. - Bjorn Vang Jensen, VP of Advisory Services - Global Supply Chain, Sea-Intelligence Twitter: @bjornvangjensen; LinkedIn

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The reshaping of your business should start with a bottom-up assessment of local raw material constraints because the only product of any value is the one you can put into a customers' hands. - Lisa Morales-Hellebo, Co-Founder, REFASHIONED Ventures; Twitter: @lisahellebo; LinkedIn

While ocean freight rates have declined, they are still high. We are in unchartered seas. Your best bet is to stay observant, informed, and flexible as we have learned to expect the unexpected. - Salvatore Mercogliano, Ph.D., Host, What’s Going on with Shipping?; Twitter: @mercoglianos; LinkedIn

Begin forecasts early and revisit them often with service providers. Communication is key. Brands should be proactive as customers would prefer to be notified of delivery issues early on. - Nicole Glenn, Founder & CEO, Candor Expedite; Twitter: @NicoleGlenn3019; LinkedIn

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Invest in shoring up your "Made in the USA" supply chain. Although it may be late for this year, it’s a worthwhile investment to ensure agility, resiliency, and speed. - Lisa Morales-Hellebo, Co-Founder, REFASHIONED Ventures; Twitter: @lisahellebo; LinkedIn

This dynamic supply chain environment requires flexibility and responsiveness, which requires very intentional investment in people, process, partners, and technology. - Nate Skiver, Founder, LPF Spend Management;Twitter: @LPFJustWins; LinkedIn

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'Tis the Season to Solidify Your Supply Chain

Despite the uncertainties that lie ahead, there are several ways to prepare your supply chain for Peak Season 2022 and beyond. Nate Skiver, Founder of LPF Spend Management, breaks peak season shipping down into five key points:

  • Plan early
  • Stay flexible
  • Communication is key
  • Expect limited carrier capacity + increased shipping costs
  • Enable a multi-carrier shipping approach

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Customers can manage the above with the Flexport Platform designed with built in communication tools, end-to-end data-powered visibility, instant booking options, and so much more.

About the Author

JamieHurt headshot2

Jamie Hurt

Copywriter, Global Brand

Jamie is a Copywriter at Flexport. She loves transforming complex topics into fun, bite-size content for all audiences to enjoy. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her upside down (or snoozing in Savasana) on her yoga mat.

Key Takeaways

1.

With current economic uncertainties, ports congestion, supply chain bottlenecks, and more, there are many unknowns around the upcoming holiday season.

2.

To prep for peak season, companies must establish agile supply chains that can pivot and keep up with the unexpected.

3.

Flexport’s platform helps customers access the end-to-end data visibility they need to make decisions.

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