Seasonal peaks have always been a headache for retailers. They are caused, among other factors, by the impact of promotional campaigns and holidays but, more in general, by the evolution of the consumption modes.
With the growth of e-commerce, peaks of demand became more unpredictable. Online promotions are now very common and do not follow traditional winter/summer sales calendars anymore. Besides, e-stores are always open, and logisticians face different peaks during a day of how orders arrive in a warehouse or a distribution center.
With new peaks arriving more often and unexpectedly, companies are just obliged to have a well thought-out plan. What are the points to consider beforehand and what are the actions to put in place in order to adjust the human and material means?
Analyze the history of the volume curves and your sales forecasts
Before preparing sales and inventory plan for future activity peaks, it is necessary to analyze sales volumes and inventory levels you had in the past. Each industry has its own seasonal peaks and reviewing your previous sales histories (while taking into consideration such factors as weather, promotions, out-of-stocks) is the first step in building your sales and inventory plans.
The goal is to have just the right amount of the inventory to avoid out of stock or overstock situations.
Prepare extra storage space
The increase of volume levels means finding place where to store them. It could be on site reserve storage or remote storage.
The use of multi-user platforms with reverse or complementary seasonality is an often-used solution.
Such logistics campuses enable to absorb peaks via pooling of resources, both material and human. Surface sharing helps to absorb peaks of activities (storage, reception, unloading…) from one company to another. And pooling of equipment and personnel (already trained and competent) contribute to efficient operations during peak season.
Optimize pick-and-pack routes
When the problem of finding extra space is solved, another issue is planning on where exactly you place your reserve storage products. You can’t just put the items wherever you find some space. Make sure pick-and-pack routes are optimized so that the most popular seasonal items are located in the least travel area.
Optimize your assets
There are more and more technological solutions aimed at enhancing productivity in warehouses and DCs. While handling peak demand, it is even more important to be productive and accurate.
Warehouses can be equipped with automated conveyors, pick-to-light solutions, voice picking, radio frequency and new solutions coming to the market all the time.
Have a temporary workforce plan
Automation is great, but currently very few warehouses operate only with the help of robots and no human workers.
Companies usually rely on in situ temporary employment agencies to guarantee additional workforce for peak seasons. As for permanent workers, the range of working hours and the weekly working time is often adjusted during peaks.
When implementing new platforms, locating them at the heart of the employment areas is a key success factor.
Summing up, the foundation of an efficient peak season is planning. It requires an analysis of successes and failures of previous peak seasons. Of course, many factors may arise unexpectedly, but if the process is well-planned, then performance is guaranteed at the same quality level as off-season. The continuous presence of your products on shelves will thus be ensured.