According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales during 2019 are forecast to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent, this growth would result in $3.82 trillion and $3.84 trillion. Based on growth of 10-12 percent, online sales would total between $751.1 billion and $764.8 billion. Despite threats of trade wars, this estimated growth and outlook for online retailers in particular is promising this upcoming peak season.

To ensure e-tailers take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities on the horizon in the second half of the year, it is imperative they plan or reexamine all their logistics processes well in advance of peak season. To do so, it is important the following tips are considered:

How far in advance should I prepare for peak season?

Peak season for each e-tailer varies depending on the products they are shipping. For online Halloween costume e-tailers, this can mean preparations for peak shipments can begin as early as August. It is important that shippers conduct year-over-year analysis of shipment volumes ahead of any discussion with a shipper. Have your current and projected volume numbers handy, including keeping in mind any special discount campaigns they plan on launching— it is important to be as transparent as possible. This open and flexible relationship allows for the shipper to ensure they are able to handle any and all volumes, as well as have a contingency plan in place in case of unexpected volume spikes.

When is it too late to forge a relationship with a logistics provider?

If you are planning on launching a new online retail store or are switching logistics providers, it is important to begin reaching out as soon as your website goes live or you have inventory available for sale.

Most logistics operators ramp up their seasonal hiring for their distribution centers and warehouse facilities in the summer in order to meet e-tailers’ demands, but nonetheless it is important to be on a logistics providers’ radar as early as possible in order to become an established customer with all documentation in order before volumes spike.

Packaging, labeling and beyond

Packaging and labeling are important aspects to ensure goods are shipped on time with any logistics provider. Each unit must have unique product SKU numbers, easily accessible exterior scannable barcodes or labels, appropriate packaging materials to ensure goods can withstand pressure during transport and do not shift when shaken. Specifics can vary depending upon the item and should be a main topic of discussion with your chosen logistics provider.

Competing in the same- or next-day space

With the rise in digital connectivity and internet usage, consumers are becoming accustomed to receiving their packages at record speeds, often with many willing to pay more to receive their purchases the same or next day. For online retailers this poses a significant challenge. Same- or next-day shipping has not become the norm and online retailers need to balance offering fast shipping at an affordable price. Both options can be a reality with the right provider offering expedited shipping services with two or three day-definite shipping options, which are oftentimes the most affordable and fastest option to-date.