Recent hot takes on the “new normal” of supply chain have become a subgenre of punditry, and you may be tired of seeing them. Macro trend analysis is all well and good, but the moment we’re in is replete with more pressing practical concerns that need action. Let’s walk through a couple of examples.

1) The “carrier capacity crisis” is kind of interesting (and perhaps frightening) to think about, but knowing about the larger issue doesn’t help you with the result on the ground: you have been provided fewer trailers in which to fit your outgoing shipments.

Solution: Pack more efficiently, by any means necessary. This time of year, speed of getting cartons out the door is usually the prime directivce. But when there’s a finite amount of space to use, adjustments need to be made. Either trigger manual review for certain types of orders, or leverage a quick-to-integrate API like Paccurate to take control of the packing process and ensure there’s no wasted space in any box.

2) Carrier fee hikes and surcharges make headlines, but if you’re already dealing with low margins there's more to do than shrug and raise your prices.

Solution: If you’re used to working with 1 or 2 national carriers, it might be time to get outside your comfort zone and engage with regional carriers to find some savings. There’s a lot of them, and plenty of software solutions these days for quickly getting quotes, like the carrier booking tech from our friends at OnRout. For the national carriers, use a cartonization solution like Paccurate to make sure you’re avoiding box-related surcharges and packing according to the incentives in your rate tables.

3) Sustainability, the temporarily-unseated champion of consumer trend analysis, is quietly making its way back to top-of-mind status for a majority of consumers. What's there to do besides finally switching away from styofoam peanut fill?

Solution: Savvy customers are beginning to discern between token gestures toward environmental responsibility, and real action. In the ecom era, these factors are best judged by what the shipment looks like when it shows up on the doorstep. Use a cartonization engine to ensure you're not shipping a AA battery in a refrigerator box, and maybe leverage a simple carbon offset API to show your customers that you go the extra mile. Our buddies at Dot Neutral have a great solution for that.

For all the sarcasm we reserve for the “new normal” commentary, the truth is what’s happening right now is not going away any time soon. Even after the carriers have distributed hundreds of millions of vaccines and we all feel more comfortable leaving the house and having strangers breathe on us, our consumer habits will not revert back to the good old days. We will still be buying “eaches” from the comfort of our couches, as carriers struggle to keep up. And so, from a practical standpoint, It’s a safe bet that small investments made in efficiency now will continue to pay off.