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What Have the Supply Chain Challenges Taught Us About Holiday Planning?

What Have the Supply Chain Challenges Taught Us About Holiday Planning?

An unprecedented holiday season where everything from where products are made to where they need to go to who's going to sell them has been disrupted. We remain engulfed in one of the combative holiday shopping seasons in modern history and there’s really no sign of it relenting any time soon. During our last blog post, we’ve talked about how a perfect storm of factors converged within all facets of the supply chain to get us to this point.

Manufacturers are still struggling to get back up to full capacity, the current state that the global shipping industry finds itself in is another issue and there is an alarming lack of containers and multiple bottlenecks occurring throughout the supply chain. Factor in the labor shortage as well, and you have a problem where the effects will still be felt well after the peak of the holiday season.

Although the 2021 holiday season will soon be behind us, what lessons can you take from this year that will enable to better prepare you for next year’s holiday season? Below are some common things to always keep in mind when planning for the holiday season.

  1. Start Planning Early - Begin formulating a plan far enough in advance of the holiday that you allow enough time to fine-tune and test out the operation.
  2. Evaluate and Implement Necessary Resources - Be certain that you can handle increased volume. This includes designating areas for backorders, returns, etc.
  3. Staff Accordingly - Plan for staffing upgrades well in advance and provide for adequate training.
  4. Over-Communicate - Share as much information with both partners and customers as possible.
  5. Line Up Delivery Options - Find a partner who can offer a range of logistical support services. Brokerage opportunities, dedicated contracted carriage and backhaul opportunities are just a few areas to seek out.
  • Third-Party Carriers: Shippers can identify those carriers with which they'd like to do business and have a transparent conversation about volumes, lanes and flows. Shippers can speak with carriers about their capacity availability and ways to bring added capacity to the shipper's business.

With capacity being so tight, shippers must focus on being the shipper of choice. Therefore, shippers should be mindful of how they're treating drivers, especially during the pandemic. This is becoming incredibly important for companies in securing capacity going forward.

  • Dedicated Service: Dedicated Contract Carriage service can provide shippers with guaranteed capacity and a high level of service without requiring the investments associated with ownership. Providers may be willing to work with shippers to create a solution during times like this. It all comes down to communication.
  • Backhaul Opportunities: Shippers should start planning and sharing a forecast with a dedicated carrier as soon as possible. That will allow them to formulate as many options as possible to help with the capacity needs they're going to have.

With the challenges and constraints predicted to continue, the key remains to be proactive in planning as early as possible in 2022.

Epes is a business unit of Penske Logistics and offers a range of quality transportation services. Visit to learn more about how we can help you prepare for the holiday seasonal surge, as well as all your transportation needs.

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