Learn how to take advantage of the off-season to future-proof your supply chain strategy

The shipping industry is not one that remains consistent year-round. In fact, the only consistency we can expect from the supply chain world is the various peaks and valleys that take place throughout the course of each year. Whether it’s the holiday rush, back to school, or the summer season, peak seasons will always occur. After the whirlwind of peak shipping season winds down, many shippers look forward to the off-season – a time often viewed as a period of respite.

However, this lull in activity should not be mistaken for time to rest. The off-season presents the ideal opportunity for shippers to strategically maximize their supply chain operations for the coming year. Especially for shippers utilizing IBM i (AS/400) Power systems, optimization is not just beneficial but a necessity for staying competitive and meeting customer demands.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the dos and don’ts of maximizing your supply chain during the off-season. From analyzing your past performance to investing in technology upgrades, we’ll explore actionable strategies to ensure that your valuable off-season time isn’t wasted, but utilized for planning, improvement, and setting the tone for success in the next peak-season.

With the peak season rush over and done with, it’s time to sharpen up your shipping strategy. These off-season dos and don’ts will guide you in avoiding common pitfalls and empower you to seize opportunities to enhance efficiency in your shipping strategy.

Don’t: Remain Complacent with Last Year’s Strategy

Perhaps your business just had its most successful peak season yet, surpassing numbers you never could have imagined. While the supply chain strategy you used last year led your business to great success, the reality is that the shipping landscape is always changing. This means there’s a good chance that whatever worked last year won’t produce the same outcome. Not only that but clinging to a static strategy can lead to a lack of competitiveness and missed opportunities. And let’s face it, there is always room for improvement.

Going into the upcoming peak season without considering the evolving market trends and changing customer expectations can leave your supply chain vulnerable to inefficiencies and major setbacks. Especially in today’s environment, flexibility and adaptability are crucial if you want to avoid the risk of falling behind the competition. That’s why it’s essential to break free from familiarity and adopt a mindset of innovation and adaptability in the competitive marketplace.

Do: Analyze Past Performance

One of the most beneficial things businesses can do post-peak to maximize their supply chain strategy is to look back into past performance data. IBM i (AS/400) Power systems users can uncover valuable insights to make informed decisions when reevaluating their supply chain strategy. Analyzing factors such as delivery times, order accuracy, and error rates can highlight bottlenecks, recurring issues, or specific areas that need improvement. Being aware of these key insights enables shippers to implement the necessary adjustments to their strategy to enhance efficiency and service quality for the next peak season.

However, oftentimes, historical data is not stored consistently or stored at all, and the time and costs associated with pulling together misplaced data can be extremely high. This is where leveraging a shipping and transportation database can be a game-changer. Having a centralized, organized, and easy to access place for your historical shipping data streamlines the post-peak analysis process. These efficient tools enable businesses to access valuable insights, ultimately driving informed decision-making and strategic planning in the off-season. [Learn more about transportation datamarts.]

Don’t: Put Technology on Hold

During the off-season, it might seem tempting to hit the pause button on technology upgrades. And with lower shipping volumes after peak, it might appear that your current shipping technology is performing adequately. But here’s the catch: technology is always advancing, so what may be working for you currently might be the reason you crash and burn when holiday shipping season rolls around. This is because outdated technology often lacks the speed and capabilities needed to streamline operations, leading to inefficiencies, errors, and falling short of your competitors. In other words, putting technology on hold is self-sabotage! Failure to remain agile in the supply chain landscape is guaranteed to impede your supply chain performance.

Another important point to mention is the process of implementing new technology is not a quick one. It takes time (several months or longer) to identify your needs, do research on what’s out there, narrow down your options, and set up demos. And, once you decide what solution best fits your needs, it takes even more time for it to be implemented. All of this to say, if you put technology on hold, chances are you won’t have it up and ready to go (and adequately tested) for your next peak season.

Do: Invest in Native Technology Solutions

It is no surprise that in today’s time, technology runs the world. From the way we communicate with others to how we buy everyday necessities; everything is driven by technology. That is why shippers on IBM i (AS/400) Power systems can unlock a world of opportunities by investing in robust, IBM i-native technological solutions designed to automate and optimize their operations, and the off-season is the perfect time to do it. The lull of the off-season provides ample time to evaluate your current technology and consider upgrading or investing in something new.

By investing in advanced shipping software solutions, such as multi-carrier shipping software, shippers can automate several tasks throughout the shipping process such as order processing, shipment tracking, and inventory management. This not only eliminates the risk for costly human errors, but reducing the time spent on manual tasks frees up valuable resources that can be dedicated to perfecting your strategy for the next peak season.

Furthermore, industry-leading shipping solutions enable shippers to optimize their supply chain by providing real-time visibility into shipments, inventory levels, and delivery routes across various carriers. Providing access to these valuable insights helps businesses make informed decisions, anticipate industry volatility, and proactively address it before things escalate. Additionally, top-tier multi-carrier shipping software solutions can seamlessly integrate with your existing IBM i system, fostering collaboration across the supply chain ecosystem. This way shippers can seamlessly stay connected with carriers, suppliers, and customers, ensuring smooth communication and collaboration to drive operational efficiency and outstanding customer service. That is why investing in the right shipping software in the off-season is not just a recommendation but a crucial step for shippers. [Discover 5 ways to master market volatility with shipping software.]

Don’t: Run on Autopilot

Getting through the hectic peak shipping season is no easy feat. Shippers put in a lot of hard work to keep orders flowing smoothly and customers satisfied. When the off-season officially begins, it’s a natural tendency to feel like you’re running on autopilot; Afterall, it’s the mind’s way of adjusting back to normal levels after the bustling holiday season. However, treating the off-season as a time to simply coast can be a costly mistake.

Think of it like this: when the Green Bay Packers are in their off-season, they aren’t just resting at home or treating it like a vacation. They are finding time to practice, analyze game film, identify their opponents’ weaknesses, and train on new plays and skills. This effort and hard work in the off-season is what makes them a strong competitor when the regular season arrives. The same goes for shippers.

By running on autopilot and neglecting strategic planning during the off-season, you put your business at risk of several pitfalls, including:

  • Inefficiencies: Unnoticed or unaddressed inefficiencies can lead to wasted resources, increased costs, and decreased productivity.
  • Lack of preparedness: Failure to plan ahead leaves shippers unprepared for potential challenges like fluctuations in demand, changes in regulations, or supply chain disruptions. This can result in delays, shortages, and unsatisfied customers.
  • Inability to anticipate customer needs: Without proactive planning, shippers may fail to adapt to shifting customer preferences and demands, leading to dissatisfaction and loss of business.
  • Difficulty implementing changes: Making significant changes to your operations without planning accordingly can be complex and disruptive. Shippers may encounter resistance from employees, unforeseen obstacles, and undesired outcomes.

Do: Take Proactive Measures

Now is the perfect time to future-proof your supply chain for the upcoming peak season by taking proactive measures. Supply chain uncertainty is a constant companion so taking proactive measures isn’t just about optimizing your current operations – it’s about preparing for unforeseen challenges as well. Instead of waiting for industry challenges to arise, shippers on IBM i (AS/400) Power systems should take advantage of the off-season to anticipate and address potential issues before they escalate.

Developing contingency plans for potential scenarios such as severe weather events, carrier service outages, or sudden fluctuations in demand can provide your operations with a safety net. By identifying possible vulnerabilities and conducting risk assessments, shippers can gain insight into potential threats and their impact on operations.

Once these risks are identified, shippers can develop contingency plans to help mitigate possible negative impacts and maintain business continuity. These plans may include alternative resource allocation, backup carrier services, or inventory management protocols. Leveraging multi-carrier shipping software can further enhance efforts to mitigate supply chain disruptions. This software provides shippers with access to a network of global, regional, and final mile carriers, allowing adaptability and flexibility in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

With fluctuating market demands and shifting customer expectations, shippers need a strategic partner to help them through peak season successfully. For shippers on IBM i (AS/400) Power systems, leveraging a comprehensive solution offers a strategic advantage, enabling them to seamlessly implement the “dos” during off season and stay away from the “don’ts”. From analyzing past performance to taking proactive measures, the right multi-carrier shipping software can empower shippers to optimize their operations with efficiency and flexibility.

Enter Varsity Logistics, a trusted partner for IBM i shippers navigating complexities. Understanding the unique demands and challenges faced during peak seasons, Varsity offers a multi-carrier shipping software solution designed to meet parcel and LTL challenges head-on. Varsity empowers shippers to surpass the basic shipping functionalities and embrace a robust solution that revolutionizes the way they handle peak season hurdles.

Success with Varsity Logistics

Varsity Logistics, the only holistic shipping solution built for the IBM i, is an industry-leading multi-carrier shipping software provider. Integrating seamlessly with all custom and major IBM i Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMSs), Varsity’s solution offers shippers several key functionalities, including:

  • Optimal Carrier Selection: Varsity’s shipping software considers essential factors such as transit time, cost, and service types to select the best carrier for each shipment. This ensures cost-effective choices without sacrificing service quality and enables shippers to adapt quickly to unforeseen circumstances, minimizing disruptions and enhancing customer satisfaction. [Learn more about the key benefits of automated carrier selection.]
  • Workflow Automation: Varsity’s solution automates the shipping process, reducing manual tasks and minimizing the risk of human error. From order processing to label generation and shipment tracking, it enhances efficiency, reduces labor costs, and improves order accuracy, ultimately enhancing the customer experience.
  • Data and Analytics: Varsity Logistics offers easy access to comprehensive historical data, empowering shippers to make informed decisions, negotiate with carriers, and identify areas for improvement. This eliminates barriers associated with accessing poorly maintained data, enhancing decision-making processes. [Learn more about Varsity’s analytics for transportation management.]

Don’t fall into the habit of letting your guard down during off-season; use this period to your advantage. As the shipping landscape continues to evolve, so should your shipping strategy. It is essential to use this time to reflect and analyze the past, leverage next technology solutions, and maximize efficiency to prepare your operations for not only the next peak season, but to achieve sustained success in an ever-changing industry.

Ready to maximize your supply chain operations? Contact Varsity’s team of shipping experts or schedule a pressure-free demo to learn how Varsity’s parcel and LTL multi-carrier shipping solutions can ease your logistics pain points and meet your unique needs.

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