Let's Talk About the Weather
Is your product effected by the weather? If so, is your Parcel TMS ready to adapt?
If you ship perishable product that is temperature sensitive, you probably obsess over the weather as much as a farmer. You wonder daily if your produce will freeze on a customer’s front porch or if your wine’s quality will suffer in 95-degree heat in a three-day shipment. You likely have processes in place that are either manual or automated to alter packaging, shipping methods, and even ship dates based upon the weather outlook for your customer. Even if you have a process in place, you often wonder if you could do better. Below are five suggestions on how using weather information in your Parcel TMS may make your life easier and your customer happier when they receive your product.
For those of you not delivering perishable items that have read this far… good for you. While not all of these recommendations may be relevant to you, there are very extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfire that you may want to prepare for.
Packaging – Knowing the destination temperature in real-time for the customer’s zip on the expected delivery day is a critical variable that can assist you in determining the amount of cold packs, dry ice, or other packaging you should include in a shipment.
Ship Method Selection – While your normal delivery commitment to a customer may be 3-5 days of shipping, if a customer’s zip is forecasted to have a high/low temperature on the delivery date, or you believe the temperature could be extreme in transit, you may want to consider altering the ship method to deliver quicker. This adjustment – while may cost you more in shipping – is offset by increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and decreased in product returns or refunds. (On top of that, expediting may allow you to reduce your shipping cost through less packaging weight.)
Ship/Delivery Date Selection – One could also modify the delivery date without changing the ship method, but also chase the ship date. Is this extreme temperature an isolated instance or regularly occurring? If it is an isolated instance, would it make sense to consider shipping a day early or later? (Of course, for any update resulting in a different delivery date, we recommend alerting your customer.)
Carrier Selection – While we typically consider all carriers equal outside of price and time-in-transit in the rate shopping process, they are not a commodity; they do vary. The question to ask, and maybe explore in your data, is if certain carriers have less spoilage in extreme conditions. The reason why one carrier could perform better than others could vary widely from the routes they take to go from point A to B (temperature in transit), the temperature of trucks/facilities, and delivery times for residential customers (less time on that porch). While finding out the root cause as to why some carriers perform better, if you believe your data is accurate you may consider an extreme temperature rate shop that only considers those carriers that are known to deliver to the quality expected.
Extreme Weather – While most of this article has been related to temperature, there are certainly weather situations that can be even more dramatic like hurricanes, or a winter vortex. In these cases, you will likely want to delay or expedite shipping – or even cancel the shipment via service blocks, since you know there is no chance the item will make it in time to be appreciated by the customer (or at all, until the shipping restriction is lifted by the carrier).
If you are in the perishable product shipping industry, you have likely considered all of the items above and do so regularly. So is your Parcel TMS is enabling you to automate the decisions necessary to make weather-related adjustments? While you may have a manual process that runs behind the scenes, could your system take some of the burden off of you? Including destination temperature at the time of expected delivery and including rating logic to handle these situations via parcel temperature control, packaging, ship method/carrier selection, and ship date/delivery changes automatically in the rating process.
Rate Shopping logic is complex, and adding weather to the equations could seemingly make it even more so. But if you are in the perishable shipping space you are doing the work already, so why not ask your Parcel TMS for a little help? The ideas listed above are just a through-starter, we encourage all to consider the ways that knowing and considering temperature in decision making will make for a better customer experience that starts with your small parcel shipping software.
We realize this piece is very high-level, and if you’d like to drill down on any of our recommendations, reach out to us with questions or comments. We also welcome opportunities to deliberate or dispute our insights and recommendations. No conversation is off limits.
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