As the Q4 holiday shopping season draws closer, logistics providers become laser-focused on scaling their operations to handle the increase in volume. This year, we've revamped our annual Peak Season Playbook to include an infographic, a mid-year update on technology trends, a Q&A with industry-leading shipping experts, a KPI handbook, and a business purpose field guide — all to help you prepare for demand peaks throughout the year, not just in Q4.

Unexpected viral demand can spike at any time, meaning savvy 3PL warehouses must develop strategies ahead of volume surges that can arise at any time of year, often without warning.

If this level of preparation sounds daunting, don’t worry; we've got you covered with our comprehensive Peak Season Planning Toolkit.

Included in 2024's Toolkit:

Infographic: Top Stats Across All Sales Seasons

Across all categories of retailers, the holiday season may not be as important as you might think. In 2023, the fourth quarter only accounted for 26.3% of total retail sales in the United States—translating to only 1.3% higher than if sales were distributed evenly throughout the year.

Check out this infographic of top stats across all sales seasons of the year for a more comprehensive view of the retail rhythm.

E-book: Cutting-Edge Logistics Technologies

The 2024 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report, released in January of this year, shined a spotlight on the emerging cutting-edge software technologies reshaping the supply chain and logistics landscape.

Explore how advancements in demand forecasting, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) over the last six months can help you handle peak demand periods more effectively in this mid-year update e-book.  

Q&A: Small Parcel Shipping Strategies

Brands sometimes sarcastically refer to “fulfillment” as the “F word,” but that’s all the better for 3PLs who’ve mastered warehousing and logistics. Even so, some of your operational processes might not go as smoothly as others—shipping being one of them.  

To help you build strategies around this complicated and time-consuming aspect of your business, we put together a Q&A with industry-leading shipping experts about small parcel shipping strategies and carrier diversification in the context of peak demand periods.

Handbook: Crucial KPIs to Measure

The most successful 3PL organizations not only use key metrics for planning and performance measurement, but also to identify and monitor potential failure points—allowing for swift issue resolution and risk mitigation.   

This handbook provides a blueprint for tracking the most crucial fulfillment key performance indicators (KPIs) split into three categories—organizing, performing, and succeeding—to guide your strategy during peak seasons. 

Field Guide: Defining Your Purpose to Build Your Business

Based on customer stories and interactions with 3PL warehouses across different verticals, mission statements are common, but there’s something else driving the biggest impact for the most successful businesses: a well-defined purpose.  

This field guide explains how to define your purpose to transform your business—leading to enhanced customer loyalty, operational success, and ability to handle the challenges that come with demand surges.  


2023 Report

Despite a gloomy economic outlook in 2023, peak season is still on. In 2023, we decided to try something a little different with our annual Peak Season Playbook by creating a bundle of resources covering all the bases for your peak season preparations. Explore this combo pack featuring a checklist for customer communication and forecasting, a Q&A about working with freight carriers, a tip sheet on financial planning, an infographic on labor management, and an e-book about fortifying IT systems.

Download the full report here

2022 Report

If the first half of 2022 proved anything—with overseas conflict, supply chain disruptions, new COVID lockdowns internationally, a continuous labor shortage, and skyrocketing inflation and consumer demands—it is that logistics professionals need to prepare themselves for anything at any time; any month could be a new peak season. With the uncertainty of supply chain disruptions and this constantly growing state of commerce, 3PL warehouses need to prepare for peak season year-round, especially now as consumers gear up for back-to-school shopping and the onslaught of holidays starting with Halloween.   

Download the full report here

2021 Report

With the exponential growth of ecommerce fulfillment, the rise in peak season orders shows no signs of slowing down. Plus, supply chain disruptions are predicted to continue this year, leading to even more inventory and shipping complexities than ever before. To prepare your 3PL business for peak season, conduct a warehouse audit as soon as possible. To ensure efficiency, prepare for peak season early so warehouse staff has time to implement new technologies, processes, and workflows as needed. By optimizing warehouse operations sooner rather than later, 3PLs will have a greater opportunity to communicate with customers and prepare themselves for a successful and lucrative peak shipping season.

Download the full report here


2020 Report

With peak seasons extending and new unexpected peaks arising more frequently, better preparation can set 3PL warehouses apart from their competition. By optimizing for efficiency, becoming a paperless warehouse, automating billing processes, offering visibility to customers, and integrating technology and systems, 3PLs will have the tools to scale and better serve their customers.

Download the full report here

2019 Report

To help you prepare for the busiest times of the year, 3PL Central has created our 3PL Warehouse Peak Season Playbook. Designed to help your 3PL warehouse quickly prepare for any season, our guide details the five most critical best practices your warehouse will need to observe in order to deliver the most efficient results under pressure, better serve your customers, and grow into a unified warehouse.

Download the full report here