Peak Season Playbook: Advice from a Rapidly Expanding 3PL | PalletSide Chat Ep. 2

It’s that time of year again! The leaves are changing, the air is getting crisp, and eCommerce and 3PL businesses worldwide are preparing for peak season. For many of us, peak season is both the most wonderful and most stressful time of the year. That’s why we’ve brought in our resident peak expert, Alex from ShipHero, to share some wisdom on how to make it through peak season without losing your mind. From personal experience, Alex can attest that peak can often be a bit of a “wild west,” but having a peak plan in place helps to keep things under control. So tune in for some peak wisdom and maybe a horror story! It’s all happening on this episode of PalletSide Chat.

What is Peak Season?

As peak season approaches, you may feel like a football coach preparing for the big game. But instead of designing plays, you’re strategizing how to navigate the influx of shipments and rising freight rates. It’s no wonder peak season is often referred to as the Super Bowl of logistics. Between mid-August and Thanksgiving, markets see high demand and increased goods on the road. And while we might spend all year optimizing our supply chain processes, peak season can still bring significant challenges for retailers and those managing logistics. So buckle up because peak season is officially here.

“What is peak? It’s the Super Bowl of logistics.” -Alex Lewkowict

Prepping for Peak

As any online business owner knows, peak season can make or break your year. That’s why it’s important to start preparing as early as possible – analyzing past inventory levels and sales numbers to forecast volume accurately and determine staffing needs. Trust us – we know from experience the mayhem that can happen during peak. Parking lot overflowing, surprise visits from the fire inspector, and throw in a visit from the USPS guy, and you’ve got the perfect storm (just ask Alex!). But having a plan in place, including cross-trained staff ready to handle any task thrown at them, will set you up for success during this chaotic time. Prepping for peak season may take extra effort and forethought, but trust us – it’s worth it in the long run.

“I feel like that’s like the peak-est peak season story I’ve heard so far.” -Dan Van Meer.

Overcoming Operational Challenges

Alex understands navigating peak season can be a headache for their clients. So, he strives to make it feel like an in-house operation without stress. Overcoming operational challenges is critical, and he prioritizes communication to understand each brand’s needs and timelines. For all of One23 Fulfillment’s clients, his ultimate goal is to ensure a smooth and successful experience.

Even with the best-laid plans, things can still go wrong—and they often do during peak season. Operational challenges can still arise during peak, even with clear communication and solid preparation. That’s why you need a strategy for overcoming any bumps in the road, whether it’s longer-than-expected lead times from vendors or unexpected employee absences. It’s important to know how to anticipate and adapt to any situation that might come your way.

“Ultimately, the playbook is lead a great team, build great relationships with customers and vendors and execute well.” -Dan Van Meer.

Customer Service Success

Let’s face it – the warehouse is a total madhouse during peak seasons. Orders are flying in left and right, and the team’s main priority is getting them out as fast and accurately as possible. However, that doesn’t mean your customers should be left to wait for solutions to their potential problems.

Alex recognizes the importance of providing excellent customer service even during the busiest times. That’s why he decided to have a few team members whose sole focus is ensuring their clients and customers receive quick responses to their inquiries and swift resolutions to any issues that arise. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of success, so it’s essential to prioritize it no matter how hectic things get.

“You’re the 3PL, you’re supposed to be the logistics expert. [For] brands, it’s their biggest time of the year.” -Alex Lewkowict

Keeping Your Team Motivated

Building a great team is crucial for success during peak season, but it’s important to remember that your team needs motivation all year round. As a business owner, it’s important to filter through employees and build a group of dedicated individuals who are excited about the challenge peak brings. 

Keeping an enjoyable work environment with perks like music in the warehouse and a family-friendly atmosphere helps keep morale high and boosts loyalty among employees. It’s also important to ensure your team understands their role’s importance during peak season and knows what to expect regarding increased workload. You’ll be fully prepared for peak season successes by maintaining a motivated team throughout the year.

“We talk about peak all year round. Everybody who works for us knows what’s coming.” -Alex Lewkowict.

You May Be Stressed … but You Can Handle It!

As Alex so eloquently stated, peak season success boils down to a simple concept: just be a decent human being. Sounds easy enough, right? But there’s a catch – the devil is in the details. So, treat your colleagues, partners, and customers with kindness and respect. Be sure to start prepping for the high volume before peak season – stay organized and proactive throughout the year. And when things inevitably become chaotic – take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee, and remember that it will all be over soon.

Together, we can conquer peak like pros! Reach out with questions and feedback at Happy peak season!

About the Hosts: As VP of marketing, Dan Van Meer is always on the go. From overseeing project management and data analytics, he has his hands in a little bit of everything. Most importantly, he ensures that all creative work – from graphic design to digital marketing – is high quality and on-brand. Co-host Alex Lewkowict is quite the renaissance man. He’s been an adolescent entrepreneur, successful CEO, and Founder of a men’s skincare line, and he created One23 Fulfillment. Did we mention he made the Forbes 30 under 30 list?

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