Last week, Ryan Peterson, founder and CEO of logistics company Flexport, took a boat tour of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to better understand the logjam there. What happened next is a lesson in creative thinking amidst the current shipping and logistics crunch.
After Peterson learned that the docks were too crowded to accept empty containers — which in turn meant truckers couldn’t collect their new shipments — he tweeted a thread filled with suggestions. Among them: End restrictions on stacking empty containers more than two high.
The thread went viral, and thinkers from the worlds of logistics, tech, and government chimed in. California Governor Gavin Newson called Peterson to discuss the issues, according to the Los Angeles Times. The mayor of Long Beach soon got involved as well, and by the end of the day, the city had temporarily changed its rules to allow empty containers to be stacked four high, thereby allowing more truckers to pick up and transport new shipments of goods.
U.S. consumers have experienced long shipping delays in recent months amidst worker shortages and rising e-commerce volume. Experts predict that will get worse as the holidays approach. As such, one Bloomberg columnist predicted Petersen’s thread “could be the tweetstorm that saves Christmas.”
Still, experts told the L.A. Times, the potential impact of the rule change is limited, since many yards don’t have the equipment necessary to stack containers that high.
Flexport, No. 8 on the 2018 Inc. 5000, is on pace for $3.2 billion in revenue this year, more than double last year’s revenue.
The Flexport saga is a reminder that business owners will need to get creative when it comes to their shipping and logistics strategies this holiday season. According to this Inc. column on shipping tips for e-commerce companies, it’s wise to:
- Diversify your carrier mix;
- Outline your return policy to your customers; and
- Offer free shipping with a minimum purchase value.