We may only be in May, but we’re already looking ahead to the back-to-school rush for retailers focusing on the school products that we take for granted. Everything needs to be carefully thought through, whether you’re selling school uniforms, stationery, books or even your lunchboxes and water bottles.  

For years, we’ve helped both retailers and manufacturers (like the Tontarelli Group) streamline their back-to-school rush. Unlike other retail items, transport logistics is often vastly more complex when it comes to school items. That’s because there is an increased likelihood of items needing to be transported from one centralised warehouse to hundreds of smaller retail outlets. The complexities involved in this can be overwhelming unless you’ve got years of experience (like us) and know how to deliver goods quickly and easily. 

That’s why we’re sharing a few of our handy hints to help you increase your efficiency before the back-to-school rush this summer.  


Advance preparations are vital. 

As with all transport logistics, we always advise early planning. The sooner you can get your delivery vehicles booked, the more stress-free your logistics will become.  


Advance planning is about contingency and risk management.  

We like to work months in advance, not just so that we can get the delivery vehicles booked, but also so we have time to factor in contingencies. You never know when a delay could arise – after all, who would have foreseen the Suez Canal being completely blocked back in 2021, nor the current escalating threat of piracy around the Horn of Africa? With longer lead times, you’ll have more capacity to establish different shipping routes to avoid specific problem areas, giving you peace of mind that whatever is happening around the world, your goods will still arrive on time.  

Longer lead times could = lower costs. 

Another critical reason for longer lead times is that we can use that planning time to your advantage.  

The great news is, for the majority of back-to-school items, you do not need to worry about time-sensitive deliveries. Unlike fresh produce or pharmaceuticals that need to arrive in a time-limited capacity, most school items can be handled at a slower pace. This means with planning and preparation, you can choose longer-length delivery options to help you save money. For instance, choosing to import or export goods by road or rail freight may be more cost-effective than air freight.  

During times when budgets are tight, making simple changes to each delivery could lead to significant end-of-year financial savings.  


Use a reputable logistics partner.  

If you are reliant on getting your school items to individual retailers, you need to have systems and processes in place that guarantee reliability. 

Making the most of technology 

Right now, transport logistics firms are investing heavily in technology that allows real-time tracking for individual deliveries. This means you and your wider supply chain can have a full view of when items will be delivered at any given moment. Of course, this technology is expensive to invest in, especially if you own your own vehicle. But for smaller firms, using a reputable logistics partner, like Waller Transport Services, means you can benefit from the latest technology without needing to pay for the investment in upgraded transport.  

Benefit from freight-forwarding solutions 

Another benefit of working with a reliable logistics partner is you have a freight-forwarding service on hand to get your goods where they need to go. By focusing on the complete end-to-end logistics, and not just the central warehouse, you can be reassured your back-to-school goods will make it to the shop shelves by July.  

Saving money through part loads  

Often overlooked as a cost-saving option, our experienced team can get your smaller deliveries where they need to be without waiting for your larger shipments to be ready. We have the expertise and know-how to facilitate part-loads, where you only pay for the space you use. If you’ve got smaller shipments ready to go, we can get them where they need to be quickly and easily without being derailed by delays elsewhere in your supply chain. 


Use data analytics to your advantage.  

Data analytics plays a hugely important role in establishing your transport logistics budgets. You need to predict how much your fuel bills may cost, establish the quickest route available and even find out if there are any potential roadworks or road closures that could scupper your ongoing deliveries straight to the retailers.   

With our knowledge, we can help to maximise the delivery timescales of each onward-bound delivery straight to each retailer. By taking the time to research if there are any specific delivery restrictions close to each shop, such as road restrictions, delivery hours and even available personnel to unload the vehicles, we can ensure your shipment arrives with minimal fuss.  

Paying attention to these small details may seem overkill, but it can make all the difference to a successful drop. For example, suppose we know there’s a tight turn close to a destination or a low-lying bridge. In that case, we can arrange for your goods to be delivered via a transit van rather than an articulated lorry. Or suppose the retailer confirms deliveries can only happen outside of peak hours. If so, we can schedule your delivery to be at a time that suits their staffing needs.  

By paying attention to these smaller details and using data analytics to plan your route correctly, you can minimise your stress levels, knowing every contingency has been carefully thought through. 


Manage the growing complexities of clean air zones. 

Finally, it’s worth noting if you are delivering goods across the UK, your logistics plans could easily be derailed by the growing number of clean air zones being introduced to tackle climate change. While daily charges are in place to allow high-polluting vehicles access to cities such as Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, London, Portsmouth, Sheffield, and Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead), those costs will quickly make a big difference to your bottom line.  

However, with our freight-forwarding solutions, we can easily arrange for your goods to be delivered by compliant vehicles. By switching to more energy-efficient trucks or even electric vehicles entirely, we can reduce your costs and help demonstrate a commitment to tackling climate change.  

For those retailers and manufacturers with clear environmental policies, this could be hugely beneficial and position you as a preferred supplier.  


Tontarelli agree these small hints make a big difference 

One company that has benefited from these practical insights is the Tontarelli Group.  

Known for their production of intelligent plastic items explicitly designed for the home, the company tell us the back-to-school rush is a huge opportunity for them. With a series of small storage units designed for perfect use in any office or classroom, the firm has used Waller to get their goods to the right destinations on time and within budget.  

Lisa Finn, Director at the Tontarelli Group, says, “Since working with Waller, we’ve been continually impressed by the small steps they take to make our logistics more efficient. The back-to-school timescale is an important time of year for us because it’s often the one time of year our customers kit out their desk or their classrooms. If we miss our deadlines, then we’ve missed a huge window of opportunity.” 

“The communication isn’t just around each shipment; it is an ongoing discussion of what they can do to improve our transport logistics processes each time. We know whatever happens, the Waller team have a contingency plan in place to help overcome those issues.” 

“It’s a real relief to know we can rely on them to always put our best interests first.” 

To find out more about how we can help you maximise your logistics during critical trading times for your business, please get in touch.