Three strategies to navigate the upcoming shipping surge

Temperatures are rising, and spring is here. That can only mean one thing for logistics: Produce season is knocking on the door. On top of the frustrations with the ongoing industry-wide capacity crunch, the Journal of Commerce estimates that spot market freight volume rises by up to 30% during produce season.

Produce season is an annual demand cycle the industry sees every year. Around March, produce starts popping out of the ground, and farmers need to get it to market as soon as possible. From late March to Memorial Day, retailers stock their shelves. Because of the huge volume of produce moving throughout the country, nationwide truck capacity is focused on getting it delivered.

This season can be lucrative for carriers because they can afford to be picky. You may already see some begin to refocus their assets now that preparation for produce shipping is in full swing.

Don’t fret — with a little strategic planning, the squeeze can be mitigated. Here are three strategies to keep your business operating smoothly despite this hectic season.

1) Become a shipper of choice.
Because demand is so high, carriers can afford to be picky. Stand out from the crowd by offering professional drivers perks like basic accommodations and parking, and make sure you’ve got a daily and weekly unload plan to guide your logistics operation. Being prepared makes for smooth sailing, and your carrier partner will be eager to grow relationships with organized shippers given the fast-paced nature of the season.

2) Be flexible.
While it’s easier said than done, flexibility will be your best friend during produce season. Can you ship on the weekend? Can you unload early in the morning or late at night? Give carriers attractive pickup and unload windows — they’re searching for quick turnarounds to capture as much of the seasonal spike as possible. We see shippers take advantage of this and have great success.

3) Do a bit of digging.
Study carrier networks during produce season. Can you take advantage of the seasonal changes and provide them with backhauls to position them into busy markets? Can you help a carrier get closer to their destination? You might be able to move some of your goods their way. Use a market analysis tool or take a look at helpful guides to get a pulse on carrier networks. With a bit of sleuthing, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the season’s increased activity.

This season clamps down on the industry — capacity shifts to meet demand, and shippers sit and watch as rates climb. With a bit of planning, you can create streamlined processes to counter the season’s craziness, improve experience for yourself and carrier partners, and reduce anxiety.