It’s the peak season for retail, and while this time of year can always be challenging, 2020—as we all know—will be especially demanding.
According to Salesforce, consumer spending via digital channels has continued to increase significantly this past year, even as brick-and-mortar locations began to reopen a few months back. Based on current consumer spending trends, they believe these record levels of digital engagement will continue through the end of the year. They also predict digital channels will make up to 30% of global retail sales in this upcoming holiday season alone. Online retailers will especially want to be at the top of their game this holiday season since we’re expecting much more money on the e-commerce table this year.
Diversifying Delivery Options
Businesses have been preparing for the holiday season, in part, by making sure their fulfillment operations are bulletproof. They’re providing customers with a reliable and convenient shipping experience by employing a diversified shipping mix, complete with international, national, and regional carrier support.
Working with a mix of different carriers is a smart move for those looking to satisfy and delight their customers with more delivery flexibility. And this is where regional shipping carriers can be a major asset for U.S. based shippers.
Regional Shipping Carriers—The Dark Horses of Logistics
Plain and simple, regional shippers focus on specific territories, and can offer a variety of benefits:
- Flexible and cost-effective regional solutions
- A strong rate of on-time deliveries
- Reliable overnight and urgent delivery options
- Personalized customer service
- The potential for specialized local services
An example of a U.S.-based regional carrier is Lone Star Overnight (LSO), which ships exclusively to southern states such as New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Another example is PCF, a last-mile delivery company for those shipping within the Northeastern U.S., with a coverage area that includes southern New Jersey to southern New Hampshire.
An example of an international regional carrier is Aramex Australia (formerly Fastway Couriers). Before their Aramex acquisition, Fastway focused on building its logistics network to over 900 franchise partners within Australia, providing convenient local delivery services.
Regional shipping carriers may lack the massive global coverage and multiple service levels that traditional major carriers offer, but they make up for it with expedited services at competitive prices. A time-definite, overnight delivery service from a regional carrier can be a viable alternative that allows a small business to meet customer expectations, should their traditional carriers become stretched under the weight of the holidays and compounded further by the pressures of the pandemic.
To summarize, small businesses that include regional shipping carriers into their shipping strategy can potentially:
- Ease the burden on their reliance on major carriers
- Offer a reliable local delivery service
- Expand their shipping options with same-day or next-day delivery to qualified customers
- Gain access to more direct customer service
Scaling Your Holiday Shipping with Regional Carriers
Deciding to work with a regional carrier comes down to knowing your customers—specifically, where they are and their delivery preferences. Begin by looking at your shipping data to determine top shipping destinations, broken out by state and metro. Knowing all of this information is useful when comparing regional shipping rates and deciding whether the carrier will meet your expectations. Some regional shippers may also offer white-glove services, such as delivery to a specific room in the home or the unpacking of packages.
E-commerce merchants looking to extend excellent customer service through shipping should consider adding regional carriers to enhance their delivery options. By leveraging the local expertise of these specialized carriers, you’ll have more flexibility and options to satisfy and delight your customers this holiday season—which in the end, will reflect positively on your business as we hit 2021.
Shippo is a multi-carrier API and web app that helps retailers, marketplaces, and platforms connect to a global network of carriers. Businesses use Shippo to get real-time rates, print labels, automate international paperwork, track packages, and facilitate returns. Shippo provides tools to help businesses succeed through e-commerce shipping.