3 Steps to Survive the Holiday Chaos in Logistics

Blog Post

Looking back on 2022, we had shipping prices go way up, and then come way back down. We had ongoing logistics disruptions cause ripple effects across global supply chains. We had logistics provider capacity issues and shipping delays. And this volatility is set to continue.

CEOs are looking to get on the front foot when it comes to managing disruption and innovation, with 67% saying they will increase investment in disruption detection and innovation processes. We’re seeing accelerated levels of investment as businesses seek to enhance critical supply chain capabilities, adding greater integrity, control, and visibility. Leading organizations are using advanced logistics technology to significantly improve visibility and enable intelligent responses to disruption and variables.

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Strategic thinking must continue beyond the immediate challenges we are faced with to set up for future success. But right now, it’s holiday season, and this usually means busy season on both sides: business and consumer. But what will it look like this year? And how do businesses maneuver through this time successfully, while also setting up well for the future?

3 simple steps to survive the holiday chaos

1. Prepare in Advance

Holiday time is crazy but it’s not unpredictable. You know that chaos always awaits you at the end of the year. Preparing your business is a lot like preparing yourself  – Things like buying gifts, decorating your home, or grocery shopping for the big meal remind you of what the holidays mean: Rising demand, increasing orders and limited time.

Make note of consumption behavior, and any new trends or habits. In the US, despite continued economic uncertainty, shoppers are looking forward to the holidays. Consumer demand has softened, and inventory levels are higher than they’ve been in years. Consumers are looking for savings by trading down and seeking value where they can. They’re also shopping for the holidays earlier than ever due to concerns about inflation and supply chain issues.

Now – more than ever – it is crucial to be digitized, flexible and rethink the status quo.

  • Know the trends: In logistics, peak periods like this need proper preparation. On one hand, the outlook on the revenues generated by continuously increasing e-commerce is motivating. Forecasts say global B2C e-commerce will more than double from $3.7 trillion in 2020 to almost $8 trillion in 2028. Digital shopping adoption continues to accelerate. In 2021, online holiday sales rose 5% year over year worldwide to $1.14 trillion, Black Friday alone saw 88 million buyers shopping online in 2021.
  • Be aware of challenges: This increasing number of transactions creates the threat of load peaks with overcrowded warehouses, harbors and many other problems. Logistics, transportation, and freight forwarding companies play an essential role in managing these increasing demands. While choosing a reliable business partner who is ready for the complexity of markets, they can ensure appropriate and timely supply chain management on a global scale. So, if you want to be a champion in logistics you must know your weakness(es) as well as plan ahead and manage your inventory, capacities, business partners, and staff for peak periods like this.
  • Recap your values: Always remember that as a company you sell a certain value to your customers or partners. How do your actions affect those values? Are your values still valid? How can you ensure you’re an authentic and professional business no matter the circumstance? Define your goals!

2. Perform to Exceed Expectations

Showtime! How do you stumble through the holiday chaos? Hopefully, you are aware of one thing: Both, consumers and businesses, know what they want, and they want it now. So, do everything you can to avoid reputational damage.

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Here’s what that means for Logistics:

  • Ensure the correct product or service: There is one fundamental expectation from your customer or business partner: The product/material they ordered is what they will receive. So, make sure you meet those expectations. It’s worth slowing down to pick the correct product from your shelf or provide the exact service that you promised. Do everything you can to avoid additional costs and time for you or your customer due to returns or unnecessary communication to clarify issues.
  • Provide an excellent service: Do not be fooled by the belief that consumers and business partners only want a good product. They expect a seamless and timely delivery with no delays and no extra costs. Increasing the visibility of your process is the key to delivering great service. For example, enable user-friendly and fast communication with business partners and employees, implement a real-time tracking system for cargo where you can see down to the line item, ensure clear documentation exchange between all parties to avoid misunderstandings, and automate processes where it gives you an advantage.

3. Reflect and Improve

After the game is before the game! What are your lessons learned? Congratulations, you have survived the holiday chaos. What a relief. Finally, time to breathe again. But as a champion, you know that this chaos will be back next year. You know that if you reflect and document your lessons learned now, you will not be surprised next year by things you already knew. You will not forget about the stress and mistakes you made this year. Find room for improvement. How do you prepare your business to become better next time?

  • Use your data: Did you achieve the goals you defined in your preparation phase? Measuring your performance is important, so make sure you use the data you have collected during the past weeks. Did you meet or exceed expectations? Do you even have valuable KPI’s and reports that help you to understand what happened and if your season has been a failure or success?

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  • Learn from your mistakes: Have there been issues with customers or business partners? Critically review your own activities and be honest with yourself. And do not make the mistake of blaming others or being offended. Instead, search for a solution so you don’t make the same mistake again. For instance, do you need to be more precise in communicating your expectations to your business partners or do you just have to improve your selection process? Or maybe you need to rethink your whole business model? How can trouble be avoided?
  • Commit to change: What is one thing that you will do differently in the new year? Find real, meaningful opportunities to do better and then set a goal for 2023 to commit to that action. Learning alone is not enough if it isn’t converted into action.

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  • Document your learnings: One year can be a long time and who knows what 2023 has in store. Do not wait until summer to recap what you learned this holiday season. A simple list can make a huge difference when you start your preparation next year. Yes, that sounds basics and unnecessary, but if it is so simple, why don’t you just try it?

>> Leading organizations are driving positive change by digitalizing. Talk to us about how we can help your team digitalize logistics operations. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2020 and was updated in November 2022 for comprehensiveness.

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