How Supply Chains Can Prepare For The Holiday Season

The holiday season is quite an exciting and bustling time here in the United States. From Halloween to the New Year, the energy turns magical. While it can be a wonderfully buzzing time for consumers, it’s downright the busiest and most stressful for supply chains. This is the time of the year they’ve been waiting for and strategic preparation is crucial. Having a plan in place can get retailers armed and ready for what can often be an unpredictable season.

How Supply Chains Can Prepare For The Holiday Season

Know Your Data and Plan, Plan, Plan!

When it comes to inbound volumes, pick and pack, or third shift needs, supply chains must be familiar with their business. This is the first and most important step in knowing the volume and flow from past years. Having this data solidified down to the day and hour will ensure nothing gets lost in translation. Once this step is done, it’s time to create a forecast plan. This involves listening and tweaking key data points with employees. Not only will this create better relationships between the higher-ups with those on the frontlines, but it will give more insight on what can be improved upon in the actual business.

Human Resources and Hiring

Human resources will also need to play a key role here. Making sure the distribution centers are operating at peak efficiency will require meetings revolving around staffing. New hires will need plenty of training time. There are multiple avenues to take advantage of when recruiting employees. Whether it’s standard online job boards, radio ads, or local college outreach, employers should make attractive and enticing offers. This may mean increasing the pay rate for seasonal employees. These potential new hires will be dealing with extreme volumes and stressful situations and should be compensated for such.

Smoothly Running Operations

Ensuring that all equipment, technology, and procedures are up to par long before the season starts is a must. The last thing supply chains want is faulty equipment that slows down on-site productivity. Examples include pick carts, packing tables, and forklifts. It is great practice for higher-level managers to get out there themselves to truly see if the plan is being executed properly and what may need to be altered. Whether it’s having direct and honest discussions with the transportation manager, the equipment trainer, or the maintenance team, the business will surely run as smoothly as possible.

Inventory and Distribution

In order to prevent running out of stock, it’s imperative to optimize inventory management systems. A distributed order management (or DOM for short) is a must-have for every omnichannel retailer. A DOM will pool inventory and create an outline of them across all channels. Stock will be available to both the customer and supplier with this intact.

Ecommerce & Delivery

With e-commerce on the rise and more and more companies promising one or two-day shipping, swift distribution has never been more important. Ensuring prompt shipping and distribution will create a full and pleasant experience for the customer. Acquiring an excellent relationship with distributors equals greater control over delivery times. Prompt delivery equals a happy customer and a happy customer means a sustainable and long-lasting business. If competing against fast and free shipping companies like Amazon is out of reach, taking advantage of Buy Online Pickup In-Store or At Curb options.

This has become a growing phenomenon especially during COVID-19 times and can greatly benefit supply chains. Many customers absolutely despise the idea of spending hours shopping in a store. Doing so in the comfort of their own homes and without paying excessive shipping fees can be a wonderful solution. According to a SalesForce report, sites that provide this option can grow holiday sales by a whopping 90% each year.

In the News: Toy companies are keeping an eye on China shipping delays as key holiday season nears (CNBC, June 18, 2021)

It’s no surprise that supply chains must be highly prepared, motivated, and organized when the holiday season rolls around each year. The retail space is forever changing, especially during these times. Retailers must stay on top of the game in order to survive and thrive. Investing in technology, tracking detailed data, and opening up communications between all parties involved will do supply chains well.

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