As many of you may already know, peak season is the time of year where businesses are poised to make a large percentage of their yearly revenue. During this time, it’s important that a business’s logistics team is prepared to handle the sudden increase in demand. While different businesses have different peak seasons, for most, holiday season signals the start of peak season
Black Friday is just the beginning of the inventory madness. As we enter November, the last leg of holiday preparation, it's important to keep an eye on your inventory. The key to surviving peak season is to ensure that inventory is in order. So, ask yourself, do you have enough inventory for black Friday?
Clean Up Shelving and Inventory
One of the most important and often underestimated factors of business is a clean and efficient warehouse layout.
Before peak season arrives, you should tidy up your warehouse. Dust off the shelves, sweep up the aisles, and tidy up those boxes. Cleaning up the warehouse allots employees better mobility and organization.
A clean warehouse also minimizes the chances that product packaging will become dirty or damaged. You do not want your customers to receive a product that is in poor condition. This not only makes your company look bad, but also gives the customer the impression that your product is of lower quality.
Implementing an efficient layout also helps optimize warehouse effectiveness. An efficient layout is one of the major cornerstones of a successful warehouse. A well organized warehouse creates an environment where orders can be received, picked, packed, and shipped with little to no hassle. By minimizing mistakes in the supply chain, businesses can fulfill more orders in less time while reducing their rate of return and mis-shipment.
To optimize a warehouse layout, you first have to know where you need improvements. Analyze things like:
- product locations
- receiving processes
- pick times
- and shipping locations.
The effectiveness of these areas can be assessed by gathering performance metrics. This data should reveal any red flags about your processes and layouts. For example, if the data report shows that two of your products are often bought in tandem, but are located far from one another, you should consider moving these product locations closer together. This decreases the pickers travel time and allows you to process orders quickly.
Importance of Forecasting
In order to satisfy customer demand, it’s vital that you forecast the right amount of inventory for the sudden influx in product orders.
It can be difficult to figure out the demand of your customers during peak season, but it's worth the effort. The best way to do this is to look at past data and base your purchases around this information.
Historical reports for past peak seasons allow you to get a good idea of what to expect this year.
For example, say last year's Black Friday inventory sales reveal that you ran out of a certain product too quickly and because of long lead times, you were not able to satisfy the demand for this product. This data would indicate that more inventory and better suppliers are needed to keep this item in stock throughout black friday.
To keep a competitive edge in any industry you have to be able to adapt and meet the expectations of your consumers. The same is true for warehouse managers.
In an era of technological growth, you’ll want to be in the know to avoid falling behind. Research what tools and software are currently driving the industry and strive to adopt the tools and tech that will propel your business. Barcode scanners, mini computers, iPads, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) are some of the tools you should research and learn more about. Each can be used to coordinate warehouse processes and improve efficiency. However, like any tool, they are only useful when used appropriately. Keep in mind the goal is to automate your workflow, and tools like these are the physical pieces that link all the parts of your warehouse.
Streamline Internal Systems Automation refers to the software and tools used to sync the various departments in a warehouse while coordinating data into a single platform. It also can be used to describe the use of tools to relieve manual processes.
Warehouses use different software in different departments to operate. Every department has its own software needs, and warehouse and inventory management software is the information hub used to sync and manage the various tools and software.
For example, a warehouse may use a shipping software like Shipworks to manage orders and Channeladvisor to sync online sales and shipping needs. A warehouse and inventory management software, like SkuVault, comes in and collects the information to show managers exactly how much product is available in the warehouse and online, as well as what products have been shipped or still need to be shipped.
Remember to automate where it makes sense. It can be a lofty investment, so keep ROI in mind and upgrade selectively. However, the amount of time and money that can be saved makes the option worth exploring.
Check Contracts With Shippers
Diversify shipping methods to provide an array of options for best shipping solutions. If you are currently only using one shipping solution, do your research and see what other shipping providers are available.
Shipping providers like FedEx, UPS, USPS, and freight on board (FOB) are some of the most popular methods to choose from.
Understand that the more shipping providers you have, the more options you have if trouble arises.
For example, imagine that it’s holiday season and you have late orders that need to be delivered as fast as possible. If you only use one shipping provider and they are not able to deliver the product then you are out of a sale. However, with multiple shipping providers your chances of making the delivery increases.
So, double check your contracts with shippers. The last thing you want is to lose your primary shippers because you neglected to renew the contract.
Getting ready for peak season requires a holistic plan of attack. These techniques and tips should be used throughout the year, but it never hurts to double check. Aforementioned, peak season is typically a time where a larger portion of revenue is made. So, dust off those shelves, double check software capabilities, renew those shipping contracts and relax…..You got this.