The holiday season is a busy time for businesses and shippers and can cause many challenges when it comes to managing a supply chain. The peak season of delivery, which represents almost 20 percent of the annual revenue of the retail industry, can be both a blessing and a curse. Although the holiday season shipping normally starts on Black Friday, the earlier you start preparing, the higher the chances are to successfully survive the busy season.
There is no such thing as “too early” when it comes to holiday season shipping preparation. Start setting the strategy in advance, rethinking all the possible drawbacks and difficulties you might face. Take a look back at the prior year or at your competitors’ strategy and make proper adjustments and improvements to your strategy that could help benefit your company.
The holiday season makes managing the supply chain difficult because precise attention to details is required. Nobody wants to receive broken or damaged items for Christmas, so make sure you have enough packing equipment so that your shipments will be delivered safely. Another fundamental point to think about is operations. Figuring out if everything works smoothly is crucial to avoid unwanted disruptions during inappropriate times.
Knowledge of what your customers want can help make holiday preparation less stressful than blindly trying to outline a plan without any specifications. Use automated tools and customer management systems to collect and analyze information. The use of data will help your company forecast which products will be in high demand during the holiday season.
Enormous amounts of orders during the holiday season puts a lot of pressure on operational departments. It is a smart idea for companies to hire additional staff, if needed, during the holiday season to help improve efficiency. FedEx and UPS are practicing seasonal hiring every year. UPS is going to additionally hire around 95,000 people this year and FedEx will hire around 55,000 people this year. Some companies, like Walmart, apart from hiring seasonal workforce offer extra hours for current employees to increase operations efficiency. Also, don’t forget to make sure all of your logistics partners like 3PL providers and suppliers are aware of your plans and strategies to avoid misunderstandings.
Even with an excellent plan A, there should always be a plan B to cover your back. Survey shows that 77 percent of customers are planning to do last minute holiday shopping, and all of them expect to receive their orders on time. Large enterprises like Amazon and Walmart handle the problem by offering the buy-online-pick-in-store model when shippers purchase online and pick their order in the nearest brick-and-mortar store. Small businesses should prepare for the last day of the shopping season by triple checking of all the systems and planning ahead inventory and staff needs.
There are many ways for businesses to avoid unexpected delays during the holiday season. Make sure you have discussed the final dates of sales with your team, business partners and specified it for the customers. It will eliminate confusion among customers and take a lot of stress off of your company. It may be done in many different ways including a website banner, in-cart reminder or even direct emails. The main point is the widest audience reach to make the deadlines as clear as possible. Implementing these practices will reduce the pressure and expenses during the peak season. Also, it will lead to decreased returns, satisfied customers and more profit.