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September 29, 2023
Retail rollercoaster: 4 ways shippers can stay ahead of shifting consumer demands
Consumer demand can be unpredictable. Shifts in sales are triggered by a number of factors, including seasonal trends and unforeseen events. Retailers can even be caught flatfooted when products go viral, causing sales to spike. Then there are the ever-present variables of inflation, interest rates, and the labor market which also affect buying behavior.

For shippers, it all means you need to be nimble to respond to the ebbs and flows of retail demand but also prepare ahead of time. Fortunately, there are ways to embrace the uncertainty so you don’t miss out on sales or end up with more capacity than you need.

Pick your spot
The spot market offers a dynamic and flexible solution that is ideal when consumer demand is either unpredictable or inconsistent. It gives you immediate access to capacity without a long-term contract. This is especially beneficial during peak shipping seasons or when sudden jumps in demand occur.

The spot market is also a valuable tool if you’re looking at expanding into new segments for your product or testing new routes. You can ramp up or down in specific geographic locations to build out capacity only where you need it and tap into carriers that specialize in certain lanes or have expertise in specific regions.

Find a friend
Brokers play a critical role in matching shippers with available capacity. The majority of trucking companies in the U.S.—96%—operate ten or fewer trucks. Brokers aggregate that capacity, giving you access to a vast network of carriers and matching you with the best carrier for your specific needs. Asset-backed brokers make it even easier to scale up as needed because they own and control the equipment that moves your loads.

Brokers also bring industry expertise and offer in-depth knowledge of the transportation industry, including insights on rates, industry trends, and carrier capabilities. Their expertise helps you make informed decisions, especially when demand is unpredictable. Taking time to build a relationship with a broker in advance helps mitigate that volatility.

Get your warehouse in order
Effective warehouse management increases efficiency and gets products out the door faster, which is valuable at any time but especially during a peak period. First consider, altering your operating hours. Having weekend or overnight shifts can offer unique capacity because it offsets the needs of other shippers.

The way a warehouse is laid out has a significant impact on productivity. The right storage and shelving solutions can maximize space. Make it easy for employees to move between aisles without anything blocking their way or creating a safety hazard. Clear labels and signage make it faster for employees to find items for picking and packing.

Technology can also increase efficiency. A strong warehouse management system gives greater visibility into inventory, optimizes the movement of goods, and reduces errors. Some systems also help assess labor needs, so you can ensure each area of the warehouse is properly staffed.

Forecast and see
Inventory is expensive, and excess inventory is never a good thing. Inventory visibility, especially real-time visibility, helps you see what’s in stock so you can decide where to ship from, when to reorder, and even how to adjust production. It’s all aimed at reducing inventory carrying costs and mitigating emergency expedited shipping fees.

When your loads are on the road, another type of visibility comes into play. Trailer tracking increases customer service and satisfaction by allowing you to provide more accurate delivery estimates to customers. The technology is available today so you don’t have to constantly be asking, “where is my trailer?”

Plan now
Want to get ahead of your next retail swing? Amazon Freight has dedicated transportation consultants and 24/7/365 operations team support. Create an account and start getting quotes in three easy steps.
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