Shipping during peak season means facing low availability, high fees, and overbooked shipments. As a result, shipping protocol can fly out the window in an effort to keep up.
But staying efficient during peak season is entirely possible. We’ve outlined a few supply chain best practices to keep in mind so you experience an optimal shipping season, busy or not.
These tips are part of our Peak Season Toolkit. Download it here for additional resources on:
- Shipping container dimensions
- Supply chain communication
- Supply chain management software to look out for
Optimizing Your Supply Chain in Busy Season
During regular shipping seasons, your team should always pre-book shipments at least one to two weeks in advance. However, during peak season, pre-booking two to three weeks ahead of time is a best practice. This will keep you from getting squeezed out of a timely delivery when other global supply chain businesses are pre-booking for their busy seasons as well.
Arrange a Telex release.
A Telex release is usually an email sent for the release of cargo at one port when the original bill of lading has been surrendered at another port. As a best practice, arrange a Telex release prior to the vessel arriving so you don’t have to deal with processing delays.
Navigate customs efficiently.
The U.S. Customs clearance process is complex to say the least. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with customs procedures for inbound shipments, provide documents such as arrival notices and commercial invoices, and go through common customs exams. Your shipping and logistics team should secure customs clearance three days prior to your shipment’s port arrival to avoid delays.
Communicate high priorities.
Efficiency during peak shipping season revolves around clear communication with your shipping partners. Let your vendors know in advance about your high-priority shipments so they can also plan accordingly.
Clear standard operating procedures.
You want all your goods to be delivered on time and in full. That’s where standard operating procedures, or SOPs, come in. Create documented best practices for shipping so that both your internal team and your vendors are on the same page. Distribute these documents early and make sure everyone knows when to reference them.
Pre-pull containers at night.
When your shipping and logistics team pre-pulls a container, that means a trucker will pull a full capacity load (FCL) container from a port and store it in the trucker’s yard instead of delivering it right away. Pre-pulling a container at night will ensure that you avoid pier pass fees, and your containers will be ready for delivery the next day. That move’s a win-win during peak shipping season.
Prepare for overbooked shipments.
Brace yourself for overbooked sailings during peak season — even when you plan in advance. Overbooked sailings that can’t be switched are “rolled” to the next vessel. You can’t always control when your shipment is rolled, but you can add some buffer time in your production plans to make up for such an event. Another alternative? Book on an alternative carrier and expect to incur different costs and different schedules.
Planning ahead and communicating clearly with all the members of your global supply chain is pivotal for a successful peak season. Use our free toolkit to stay on your “A” game during peak season.