#2: “Peak Season” Presents Shipping Challenges
In straightforward economic terms, you’ll see the principles of supply and demand in action as retailers all over the globe stock up for October, November, and December sales.
As you prepare to ship your holiday inventory, you’re likely to see:
Higher, More Volatile Freight Rates
During the run-up to the holiday season, demand allows freight carriers to charge higher rates, including peak season surcharges. Additionally, for ocean freight shipments, congestion at the ports could mean long lines for drivers picking up containers, which may result in detention charges.
Your freight forwarder will be an invaluable partner in estimating these costs, so you can set your own prices accordingly.
Small Parcel Pricing Can Go Up, Too
During the holiday season, FedEx and UPS add demand surcharges to their prices. (The USPS did the same during 2022 but opted against it in 2023.) If you’re shipping to customers using any of these carriers, keep these extra costs in mind. (We’ll also talk more about final mile delivery in the next section!)
Delays & Interruptions
When ocean freight demand rises, so do the possibilities of congestion, delays, and rolled cargo—i.e., when a vessel is overbooked and your cargo is pushed to the next sailing.
A good freight forwarder has a few strategies in their toolkit to combat these issues. For example, if you’re sending several containers, your forwarder may want to separate them into several bills of lading (BOLs). This reduces the possibility of your entire shipment from getting rolled (although it doesn’t prevent it entirely).
Your best strategy is to plan as far ahead as possible, leaving extra cushion in case of delays or interruptions.
It’s also important to remember that ocean freight transit times are only one piece of the puzzle. Once the ship arrives in port, it will need to be unloaded. Then, your goods will need to be picked up from the port and prepared for delivery. Your freight forwarder can help you estimate the door-to-door timing so you can plan.