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School's Out for the Summer, Time for Back to School Shipping

June 20, 2022 Kevin Baxter

Back to School

Across the U.S., school is out for students for summer vacation. In fact, here in Indiana, school's been out for a few weeks already. But for shippers, the end of one school year serves as a reminder that the next one will be here before they know it, as they prepare to stock up retailers - both brick and mortar and online - with back to school merchandise. Shopping for back to school merchandise is an important ritual for families, and plenty important for retailers as well, accounting for nearly $110 billion last year when college is factored in. Back to school retail also marks the beginning of a key stretch in freight and logistics that lasts about half the year traditionally - peak shipping season. That means preparing for back to school requires shippers to have the foresight to look beyond the mad rush for apparel and school supplies to what comes next with approaching holiday milestones as well. Otherwise peak shipping season may not go so well.

Back to School Supply Chain Tips

Back to school supply chain planning is generally similar to the rest of the year in terms of retail supply chain mechanics, but there are a few tips to follow that will make it go more smoothly. Following a few back to school supply chain tips can help shippers get and keep their merchandise on store shelves (or in stock online) throughout the shopping season:

  • Determine which products are needed most for back to school season, and prioritize those
  • Investigate multiple capacity options, including additional carriers and modes (like intermodal for instance)
  • Ensure temperature-controlled capacity, which may be needed for electronics, batteries and other items
  • Negotiate  competitive freight rates - ideally contract rates are already in place, but spot rates may be needed for supplemental capacity
  • Leverage established carrier relationships for capacity/price considerations
  • Stuff the channel - frontload shipments of the most vital products to have them either in stores (or shippable for ecommerce sites) or staged at DCs ready to go
  • Closely monitor inventory to ensure product availability

Following these back to school tips can make supply chains run smoothly even with the elevated demand of early peak season. Do they sound a bit daunting? Don't fret. Just reach out to us and we'll be happy to assist with all your back to school shipping and logistics needs. Looking to do a bit more research? Visit our Learning Center for a variety of useful freight and logistics information. Or you can start with a few of the links below: 

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