Making Sense of Your Shipping and COVID-19

by | Mar 20, 2020

4 min read

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You don’t need me to tell you that these are crazy times. The changes to our way of life between when I wrote my last post about how to work with your carrier during this crisis and now are extreme.

For shippers, it’s overwhelming to consider how to protect your business, take care of your staff, and maintain a solid customer experience. Industry news seems to come at you from every angle, and advice along with it. The key is to stay adaptable and watch your data like a hawk.

 

Dive into your data and act quickly

First, like everything else, don’t panic! Change is still going to rule the day, just like it did 100 days ago. Shippers are always on their toes, no matter what’s happening in the world. Yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s change just move at a different pace than 100 days ago.

Forecasting and budgeting might be difficult practices for the foreseeable future, but shippers still need to forge ahead in our new reality. Here’s how you can attack it without panicking.

  1. Look for trends in your recent data. And by recent, I mean the last 30 days. Was there a significant package volume uptick or downtick? Look at package weight, product count, average zone — anything that says, “Look over here! Look at me!”
  2. Identify trends quickly and act on them immediately. Visibility and recognition will be the key. Indicators are only that though — an indication of a problem. What’s driving the trends you observe? Quickly identifying the conflict among these issues is your only chance at resolving what is having an impact on your shipping.
  3. When you know which metrics to watch, use recent data (forget about last year!) to gauge the health of your shipping operations. You’ll then be able to make better decisions for your business. Shipping data can be overwhelming, simply because there is so much to interpret, but clear visibility will help you get there.
  4. If you don’t know who your carrier rep is and how to contact them directly, find out immediately. Getting through on your carriers’ main customer service line will be a frustrating exercise, to say the least. Find out how to get the fastest service updates so you know what to expect in terms of service quality or your ability to ship altogether.
  5. Communicate with your rep and ask for help. They will do what they can to help you because they want to make sure they have customers when this crisis has passed. Think about what you need now and what you’ll need six months from now and work with your carrier to work out a situation that protects you given what you know about your present shipping data. Know the triggers that will demand a new plan.

 

More actions you should take

  • Secure your supply chain, assuming you know the ins and outs of your supply chain (and you should). Identify gaps and revise your source providers. Amazon’s recent stoppage of non-essential items into its fulfillment centers has left some sellers scrambling. If this affects a large part of your business, use this time to strategize whether other fulfillment options might make sense for your company in the short or long term.
  • As you look at your business long-term outside of this crisis, consider whether it will dampen the Amazon effect and consumers’ expectations for one- or two-day delivery. How would that change your business?
  • Consumers crave transparency during uncertain times, so be prepared to give it to them. Use realistic time frames, not best-case scenarios. Give them a reason to like and trust your brand so they’ll continue to be your customers beyond this trying time.
  • Gather your sources of information (contracts, agreements, addendums, supplier contact information, carrier contact information) and as you begin to review the new data coming in, leverage it to forge new alliances that will serve your business now and in the future.

 

Stay informed

Empowering yourself with deep knowledge of your data is more important than ever. Staying on top of the rapid changes is important too. We’ve created a COVID-19 resource page for shippers that features carrier news and updates, shipper best practices and FAQs, and a chat for any shipping questions you might have. Our experts are here to help you get through this.

Topics: Carrier Negotiation, Contract Negotiation, COVID-19, Customer Experience, Shipping Data