Preparing your 3PL or warehouse to handle the increased influx of holiday orders from eCommerce shopping carts and online retailers this peak season is very important to your success. The trials and tribulations of the holiday season take their toll on the warehouse and logistics process. But all is not lost! Argos Software offers this quick list of ways your distribution center can be successful in your day-to-day operations, no matter the season.
1. Know why this peak season is different.
Changes in the global supply chain and the overall market could make it difficult to meet your original 2022 expectations. Therefore, you must be ready to tackle problems head-on to meet shipping deadlines. This could mean making changes to delivery lead times to help counteract or prevent shipping delays, lost sales and orders, and disappointed customers during peak season 2022.
What is causing problems and affecting the warehouse’s ability to meet demand this peak season? Among the potential issues affecting shipping and delivery times are:
- Continuing supply chain disruptions
- Customer expectations and buying patterns continue to change
- Increases in stock levels for holiday buying
- Lack of warehouse staff
- Fuel price uncertainty affecting carriers
- Unpredictable and extreme weather events
- Wars and/or political instability
- Inflation and/or a potential recession
- Coronavirus and flu season resurging
2. Plan your order volume and fulfillment strategy.
- Use technology. Rely on your warehouse management system (WMS) software for real-time and historical data. This is a great starting point for upcoming peak season forecasting, determining potential inventory stock levels, and needed warehouse space.
- Involve both internal and external stakeholders. The best way for your warehouse or 3PL to plan ahead for peak season is by communicating with your clients, employees, and suppliers to maintain and increase sales and orders. They are a very valuable resource for information about inventory levels, warehouse space, and identifying any potential supply issues. Talk regularly about schedules or upcoming promotions, as well as the inevitable Black Friday and Cyber Monday order peaks from online retailers.
- Don’t just consider the previous years’ figures. Take notes throughout each year on warehouse shipping percentages, order fill rates, labor hours, inventory levels, and other data that can fluctuate at any time with changing market conditions.
3. Make sure you have enough packaging supplies for customer orders.
Packing and shipping supplies are a must to prepare and process orders during any time of year, not just peak season. Plan ahead so your warehouse or 3PL doesn’t end up short on shipping supplies inventory at this peak crucial time.
In a recent Supply Chain Dive article, John Blake, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, noted that supplies for packaging will remain a challenge this peak season. “Currently we’re seeing six months’ where it used to be four to six weeks,” he said. “Things like labels have 12 to 16-week lead times, where it used to be four to six.” Talk to your suppliers to ensure you have enough safety stock to make order fill.
4. Communicate shipping deadlines.
Be prepared to ship items earlier than you would at any other time of year to meet customer expectations. To avoid any peak season shipping disruptions and unhappy customers, continually communicate with your carriers on anticipated schedules and any sudden changes that arise in the shipping process. Ecommerce business depends on sound inventory management.
5. Exceed customer expectations.
Damaged items, late or lost shipments, and returns are inevitable during the holiday season. Once again, polite and proactive communication is the key to avoiding lost sales and unhappy customers while increasing customer satisfaction. Have a process in place that your customer-facing staff understands and follows.
6. Take care of existing workers with quality benefits, programs, and incentives.
Your employees are crucial to your warehouse or 3PL delivery times this peak season and they will probably be working longer hours. Put yourself in their shoes by recognizing and rewarding warehouse staff for their hard work. These same offerings will also help you attract new or seasonal workers to meet shipping demand.
7. Upgrade warehouse technology.
Make sure your WMS technology is up to date. Voice picking, mobile device integration, RFID tags, and other newer process technologies can be integrated with your WMS software from Argos Software to improve your facility’s inventory management and operations, allowing you to ship more products, faster, and avoid potential delays this peak season.
8. Use your WMS software to your advantage.
ABECAS Insight Software from Argos can automate processes, integrate APIs and shopping carts, generate valuable reports and send updates to customers, track shipments, and provide your employees with real-time inventory stats for peak season. It also helps your customers plan your inventory levels whether they practice JIT (Just-In-Time) or JIC (Just-In-Case) inventory control.
How do you manage peak season?
Planning before peak season with an organized inventory management strategy will help your warehouse or 3PL meet your end-of-year inventory and sales goals and better prepare for next year. For details on how Argos can help your company during any peak period or typically busy business day, contact us!