A Ho-Ho-Whole Lot of Seasonal Challenges are Coming to the Freight Industry

After a topsy turvy year, companies across the freight industry are bracing for a partic­u­larly challenging Q4. As the busy holiday shipping season crescendos and many shippers prepare for what will be their busiest, most profitable months, they’ll be constrained by a capacity crunch, the potential prospects of a new wave of COVID-driven disruption, and an expected spike in cargo theft.

In conjuction with our partners at Loadsure, we’re exploring how this holiday shipping season may look different from years past, and how shippers and carriers alike can use technology to mitigate risk. 

Holiday Capacity Crunch

With the holidays just around the corner, online purchasing is up and imports are spiking. Meanwhile capacity remains tight — and this is especially true for reefer units. While we’ve hit the end of the agri­cul­tural season for many items, holiday favorites such as apples and pears — not to mention turkeys and hams — will be in high demand. That demand for capacity will be amplified as the northern US and Canada brace for frigid winter temper­a­tures and the need arises for protect from freeze” shipments. 

Likewise, flatbed carriers will see a spike in demand as shoppers close in on the Christmas tree season and families do what they can to bring home a sense of comfort and joy in what has been a tremen­dously trying year.

What does this mean? Lucrative spot freight market opportunity will be there for the carriers equipped and covered to haul specialty freight.

COVID-related Impacts

The industry is steeling itself for a second wave of coronavirus infections — a scenario well underway in many states.

Similar to this spring’s initial wave of case, a new explosion in infections can be expected to create disruptions that ripple across the supply chain as drivers and warehouse workers fall ill or choose to remain at home.

For those that remain in the workforce, they’ll operate under far greater stress and strain than ever before, potentially increasing the risk of car-truck crashes, warehouse accidents, and misplaced LTL shipments.

Spike in Cargo-related Crime

Ranging from railyard and warehousing-related theft to localized parcel swiping, the trans­porta­tion industry experiences an annual spike in cargo theft during the holiday season. This year, however, the rise in crime is expected to be compounded by COVID

Fictitious pickups are — not surpris­ingly — on the rise. With most everyone mentally taxed by COVID and related disruptions, workers are more likely to be duped by someone posing as a legitimate driver than they might otherwise be.

Likewise, as supply runs low and demand runs high for products such cleaning supplies, PPE, electronics and other hot ticket items, there’s a natural incentive to dilute the supply chain with counterfeit products. Online market­places are already tasked with battling counterfeit listings both inter­na­tion­ally and domes­ti­cally, ille­git­i­mate pop-up manu­fac­turers are more agile than legitimate manu­fac­turers and can more quickly respond to market demand with low quality items.

Already, CargoNet has reported that cargo theft is up 23% year-over-year. In fact, more than $33mm in freight has been stolen across the US and Canada in Q3, with load values averaging $151,000. As some small businesses enter the holiday season on less than solid financial footing, a loss of this magnitude could put them under.

New Tech­nolo­gies Can Help to Minimize Risk and Empower Companies to Seize Fresh Opportunities

There’s no bones about it: holidays are going to be a tough time for shippers and carriers. We’ve already seen large carriers posting shipment delay warnings beginning as early as mid-October. They’ll face the tightest capacity they’ve encountered in a very long time, coupled with strained or disabled drivers and an ongoing battle against the pandemic and economic elements. 

As carriers look for ways to seize on seasonal opportunity while protecting against growing risk, they may be searching for insurance coverage that will enable them to haul bigger loads during the Christmas tree season, for example, or to haul commodities they’re not covered for by standard insurance.

Meanwhile, shippers may not realize that the typical carrier liability policy doesn’t cover inside theft — putting the continued sustain­ability of their business at risk in a fragile environment.

With many of us operating in the most restrictive envi­ron­ments we’ve ever experienced, we want you to know that you’re supported — that we’re here to help you confidently continue to work and earn as much as you can in spite of the diffi­cul­ties many industries are facing. It’s why we’ve partnered with companies like Loadsure in order to bring that confidence to you and your business. Through our Freight­Launch platform, we’re putting cutting edge technology to work for you by enabling new ways to access cargo insurance on a per-load basis and expand seasonal coverage in moments. Not only does Freight­Launch help carriers rapidly implement EDI when required by seasonal customers, but they can natively take advantage of a fully digitized claims process (that you hopefully won’t need to take advantage of) in which settlements can be accelerated from weeks to minutes, rapidly making your business whole when it’s needed most. 

Companies like you work hard for us — and your employees are some of the unsung heroes of our economy. It’s why we work hard for you, and why our goal is to bring you innovative new tech­nolo­gies that help your business thrive in tough times. 

We’re ready to help.

Our EDI network and custom integration solutions are built to serve companies of all size — ranging from multi-national shippers to regional carriers to niche manu­fac­turers. Ready for action?

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