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Preparing for the 2021 Shipping Demands

As the year draws to an end, the pandemic's ripples have businesses scrambling to meet the holiday shopping season's intense demands. 2020 has been incredibly challenging for business owners of all shapes and sizes. The pandemic and economic ripples brought to light the many weaknesses in companies' strategies, especially in marketing, inventory, shipping, and supply chains.


However, research also shows that 2021 will also present a different picture - just like 2020 – entirely different from the past. There is also no current understanding of the pandemic's long-term impact, as uncertainties continue to prevail in the industry. Normalcy as we know it is nowhere in sight – at least not until late next year or by 2022. Nonetheless, the key to overcoming the problems brought about by the pandemic is planning. Here are a few useful tips and trends in 2021 shipping demands to help you make strategic shifts in logistics to gain an edge in the coming year.


Trends and Tips to Prepare for 2021 Shipping Demands


1. Uncertain Freight Patterns


The COVID-19 changed freight movement and patterns at an incredibly rapid speed. Consumer demands for essential goods surged as against non-essential goods. Shippers selected big box lanes, alongside an increase in air, parcel, and intermodal freight transport models.


The shift in freight patterns will continue to be inconsistent in 2021 as freight volume is also expected to rise. This will be caused by the recovery of goods production, leading to more products in the markets. Fuel rates are also expected to go back to normal or increase by 3 – 4%. Therefore, overall transportation costs will increase tremendously. US/China regulatory issues are equally expected and will unfold at the dawn of the new year and might push shipping demands in a currently unknown direction.


The solution? While it isn't possible to have an accurate picture of shipping costs for your business in 2021, there are strategies you can implement to prepare for whatever comes your way:


A. Adopt Dynamic Pricing

Your logistics costs will be rife with uncertainties this coming year. Therefore, adopting dynamic pricing is vital for every e-commerce retailer to keep its customers. No matter the value of your product, you need to price correctly.


With the uncertainties of the market, the right price today might be different tomorrow. Therefore, investing in dynamic pricing software will help you determine the best price for your products in real-time.


B. Diversify Supply and Shipping 

Now is the time to project on shipping costs and shop around for competitive freight rates. It is important to expand your freight carrier network and secure better suppliers and partners.


Also, make sure to build good relationships with them. That way, you can go into the new year with a better idea of your costs and ensure you've got the right partners at your back.


C. Let Your Customers Choose How You Serve 


According to Sunset Trans, last-mile delivery is now a must for all retailers and e-commerce businesses. You need to implement a shipping solution that is affordable while meeting your customer's needs. Do note that customers are no longer willing to wait for 3, 5, or 10 days to receive their purchases. They now prefer same-day, next-day, and two-day premium delivery options. Therefore, being able to remain relevant depends on providing those options. Also, consider providing different purchase options. Currently, these purchase options are ruling:

  • Buy online pick up in-store,
  • Buy online, get doorstep delivery.
  • Buy in-store; choose home delivery.

Providing diverse shipping and delivery options will help you reinforce your product's value and help drive product delivery expectations.


DeliverOL offers you access to cost-effective shipping couriers and shipping solutions. W can help you offer the best experience possible to your customers through seamless deliveries.


2. Flexible, Regional, and Short-cycled Supply Chains


This year, a major problem faced by business owners was the inability to receive their much-needed supplies and inventories at the right time. Many companies, before now, ship everything from diverse remote locations, such as China.


These dependencies on lean and just-in-time inventory models led to severe issues for many companies during the year. It was hard to predict demand, and even harder to deal with tons of stock of the wrong product and no way to access the right supplies to sustain business growth.


Therefore, your business must move from such practices to nearshoring and reshoring inventory models. You need a regional, short-cycled, and flexible supply chain model to sustain demand and ride out the pandemic. Therefore, it is now more than ever important to focus on your stock and inventory management, not only to beat the pandemic but achieve growth longer after it becomes history.


3. Harness Digital Transformation 


The pandemic has paved the way for digitization. Now brands must embrace the e-commerce scene to stay relevant. But that isn't the only trend.


There is also the need to invest in automation, electronic payments alongside cybersecurity protocols to build resilient supply chains that can adapt easily to rapid changes.


Beyond these, your e-commerce brand must also consider adopting email and tracking packages for your customers. Buyers now want to have a real-time view of where their packages are until it reaches their destination. Thus, by offering such tracking capabilities, customers can learn more about delays and estimated delivery times without contacting your customer care. Tracking features will delight your customers and deliver a great experience. A great experience is a pre-requisite to repeat purchases and, in turn, sustainable growth.


4. Leverage the Power of Data


We have already shown that freight patterns will remain unstable, despite the expected recovery in goods production. Therefore, the pandemic has made it harder to predict customer demand and behavior. However, predictions are still awfully important, and such should be preceded with accurate, real-time data insights. Therefore, you must invest in solutions that can help you leverage real-time insights from customer data alongside your operations. This again brings to light the need to harness digitization. Real-time data can help your business analyze previous sales and operations in 2020 and the past. This analysis will help you define mistakes and make proactive plans for 2021 and the future. Your customer data will also help you achieve real-time insights on-demand, so you can have the right products your customers need at the right time.


Data will also help you understand the different pain-points your customers' experience to deliver a superior experience. In the end, you will be able to combat whatever issues that arise quickly and effectively and offer the best service. This, in turn, helps you grow your customer base and gain the edge long after the pandemic.


Key Takeaways


To dominate the market in 2021, planning is highly vital. Leverage data insights all-around your business to remain proactive. Consider providing multiple purchases and delivery options for your customers. Choose digitization to help optimize costs, and achieve accurate visibility over your entire supply chain.


The bottom line, the new year, will be filled with uncertainties. Experts say there is no way to predict global shipping recovery correctly. It might recover sooner than expected or much later. Therefore, you must prepare for whatever comes your way by building a resilient supply chain.


Overall, you need to adopt the latest trends as soon as possible to prepare effectively for shipping demands in 2021.


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