28 July 2022

Your Peak Season 2022 Survival Guide

If you work in the logistics or e-Commerce industries, the term “peak season” may make your heart begin to race. The unpredictability of it all. The need for increased labor. The stress of getting countless orders out in a timely manner. All of it amalgamates to a time that’s associated with heightened anxiety for its participants. 

Just because peak season woes have affected your operation in the past doesn’t mean you’re doomed to experience them every year. We’ve compiled some tips and tricks to help you ease your way through peak season this year, rather than stumbling through it. 

What is Peak Season?  

Peak season refers to an annual period of time during which a surge of shopping – online and brick and mortar – takes place. While it varies a bit year to year, for most industries, it happens between mid-August and early December. Back-to-school shopping marks the start of it. It’s also accelerated by the clearing of summer inventories and, of course, the impending holiday season. 

For those in e-Commerce and logistics, all of this makes for a months-long duration of higher demand, higher throughput requirements, and higher stress. Accelerated buying from retailers means that companies involved in getting orders in and out have quite the workload ahead of them.

Fear not, there are strategies for making it through peak season in one piece. 

Tips for Peak Season 2022 

The first step to prepare for peak season is getting up-to-date with the industry at large. Each year presents new global changes and trends that directly affect logistics. It’s best that these don’t catch you by surprise. 2022 challenges include the following.

1. Anticipate the effects of COVID‘s recent rise on labor 

There’s been a recent resurgence of COVID on a global scale. What started with the Omicron variant now includes the recently discovered Ba5, the most contagious variant yet. In the US alone, the CDC has reported anywhere from 40,000 up to 150,000 new cases each day. While symptoms have been less severe, employers should expect plenty of sick days, exacerbating the labor shortage. 

Peak Ready Tip:  Have contingency plans at the ready, and embedded in all SOPs. Use cross-training, agility and automation (where possible) to augment human labor shortfalls.

2. Expect a new record in online orders 

While people have returned to shopping in stores and malls, online shopping continues to grow. Forbes reports that e-commerce increased from 15% of global retail in 2019 to 21% in 2021. In 2022, they’re now anticipating it to account for 22% of sales. That’s nearly ¼ of shopping globally, now done online. 

This is good news for those who operate and service e-Commerce businesses, but keep in mind that it means this peak season is likely to be busier than any before. 

Peak Ready Tip: No room for complacency. Add resources, hone processes, implement improvements. You may have innovation upgrades planned for 2023, but there’s always room to upgrade processes (communication is usually an easy one) in time for peak 2022.  

3. Consider risk management and alternate methods of shipping and sourcing due to global events 

Another hindrance to meeting peak season’s demand in 2022 are the disturbances in the transportation and sourcing of goods due to global affairs. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has interrupted the travel of air routes crossing through the region, and an increase of ocean freight is expected due to the diversion of rail cargo. 

Freight isn’t the only thing being affected. Russia has been one of the biggest exporters of raw goods to the US, with almost $142 million in mineral fuels and oils exported to the US in 2020, according to Deloitte. Ukraine and Russia also play a huge role in global agriculture, making up 25% of global wheat trade. The conflict is currently creating vulnerabilities in supply chains and sourcing, requiring businesses to focus on risk management or turn to other supply sources. 

Peak Ready Tip:  This year, more than ever, proactively dig into shipping and receiving data analysis and employ AI tools to determine your best options to obtain goods in a timely manner.

4. Keep your eyes and ears open for updates on inflation 

A worry that’s on everyone’s mind these days is inflation. Reuters shared that 48 economies reported experiencing inflation from 2020 to now. Now an issue on a global scale, the impact of inflation on global logistics is inevitable. One clear symptom is the rise of fuel prices, creating a greater expense for those in transportation. 

However, it seems that the worst could be yet to come. Willy Shih, a professor of management practice at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters, “There is a time lag in all these supply chains depending on how far upstream you go, but you won’t feel it until many weeks, or sometimes months, later.” While we can’t say for certain all the ways in which the logistics industry will be affected, Reuters also reported a stronger correlation between supply chain disruptions and inflation ever since the pandemic. 

Peak Ready Tip: Understand that from transportation to wages, and everything in between, the cost of doing business will be higher this year. The same may hold true for the coming year as well. This may be the tipping point for your business to consider automation solutions with fast ROI. 

Your 2023 Automation Plan May Ease Anxiety

As a leading robotics solutions provider serving the world’s busiest logistics, 3PL and e-Commerce companies, Dorabot is fluent in speaking peak season. As our customers can attest, implementing robots requires a fair amount of planning. While adding a cost-saving, labor conserving robotic solution may not be in the cards for 2022, simply taking charge of next year’s peak season now may make this year’s challenges feel less stressful.

Peak season doesn’t need to be a time full of anxiety and unease. It offers a chance for your operation to grow and prosper in the face of increased business challenges. 

While outside forces are out of your control, proactive measures to reduce their impact and strengthen your approach to peak season are always within your reach.