Ready or not, the holidays are coming. Whether it be Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving pumpkins, or holiday lights, customers increase their buying during the holidays and therefore it’s a hectic time for suppliers trying to meet their demand. Despite worries over trade tariffs, consumers are in good financial shape, as the National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.2 % this year and Deloitte predicts $1.1 trillion in holiday sales. Businesses need to be prepared for demand spikes, so what can efficient directors of warehouse supply chains and warehouse managers do to get ready for the holiday rush?
- Eliminate Data Silos
If there is no plan in place, create one. Smart supply chain directors collate and make sense of data metrics, using technology to eliminate data silos. Call a staff meeting and be transparent, presenting snapshots of what is forecasted the next quarter. Empower employees by asking for their ideas to avoid potential roadblocks.
- Increase Visibility of Orders and Deliveries
A highly functional supply chain has increased visibility of freight, location of products, and inventory. Real-time visibility is vital during hectic periods of activity and can assist in ensuring suppliers deliver on time, reduce inventory and mitigate risk. Now is a good time to review contracts, making sure suppliers share an organization’s goals and are communicating real-time information.
- Look to LTL
Due to a shortage in drivers and capacity, truckload shippers’ rates recently jumped to historic highs. A prudent way to cut down on shipping costs is to consider Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping versus Full Truckload. Each shipper only pays for the weight of the freight and the space it takes up versus the full load.
- Get Creative with Perks for Seasonal Employees
Right now there is an incredibly tight US labor market. Near record low employment rates means warehouses may need to get creative with perks and offer higher wages to attract seasonal workers
- Increase Efficiency
Look to industry powerhouses for ways to increase productivity. Amazon is changing the game by outsourcing its inventory management. Best Buy recently announced that they’ve opened new warehouses, taking advantage of automated robots that are able to perform tedious tasks, allowing employees to focus on more value-added tasks in the warehouse. Whereas not every organization has big box store budgets for automation, greater efficiency can still be achieved by looking at workflows, procurement, inventory, and storage.
A productive supply chain plays a pivotal role in a successful holiday season. Paying close attention to data, increasing visibility, reducing costs, motivating workers, and increasing efficiency boosts supply chain productivity.