With every transport mode in high demand, logistics managers have been facing more than the usual stress. Wayward events—like a global pandemic or the blockage of the Suez Canal—have sent ripples of chaos across a market that was already volatile pre-pandemic.
For companies feeling the struggle, a refreshed set of best practices can provide a foundation for more reliable logistics. Here’s what you need to know in an era of nonstop pandemonium.
A Speedier Shipping Cycle
The shipping lifecycle hasn’t so much changed as accelerated. But when logistics speed up, there’s less time for comparisons or review. Decisions need to be rapid or capacity is lost to a competitor.
And if there’s barely any room on ships or planes, there’s definitely no room for mistakes. Build confidence in your process—even when scrambling for cargo space—by streamlining decisions:
- Use multi-modal booking in the platform to increase efficiency and reduce errors. When booking is integrated with other supply chain workflows, you can make smarter choices.
- Stay current on market impacts to make quick pivots from ocean to air or one port to another—before cargo gets rolled. Costlier transport can still be cheaper than lost sales opportunities.
- Finalize decisions with data. The platform lets you run reports in minutes on critical trends like transit times, container utilization, and line-by-line billing analysis. When the stakes are high, data is your friend.
Shifts in Key Dates
Freight forwarding turned on its own seasons for years—Chinese New Year was known for blank sailings, and RFP season could make or break a year, if you weren’t careful.
Key dates still matter, but as global trade continues to adjust to the cascading impacts of Covid-19, a few things have changed.
- Chinese New Year: Many factories still close, but this year, many stayed open, too. Carriers kept more sailings on the schedule in an attempt to catch up after pandemic-related shutdowns. As demand holds firm, sailings could be more frequent than usual next year, too.
- RFP Season: Long-term contracts aren’t as popular as they used to be. If a lengthy agreement doesn’t work for you—or carriers aren’t offering one—you can still make the best of it. Tailor frequent renegotiations to your needs and apply lessons learned along the way.
- Golden Week: The early October holiday trends towards overbookings, meaning a higher likelihood of rolled cargo. This could be a good time to pull the trigger on premium services that come with guarantees.
- Peak Season: Is peak season even real anymore? The past year has been one relentless roar of demand after a sudden shutdown. Even pre-pandemic, 2019’s peak season dropped off by July after an economic downturn. Watch big economic trends to see how this will play out.
For more ways to refresh and strengthen your logistics strategies, dive into the fundamentals of moving cargo with The Logistics Manager’s Playbook.