Peak season fulfillment is a topic that strikes both fear and hope into the minds of supply chain leaders.
It can boost profitability and provide a jolt of efficiency. On the other hand, inadequate peak fulfillment can write the epithet on a company’s tombstone.
Instead of waking to a real Christmas horror, ensure your supply chain is capable of handling peak demands by understanding the problem with poor peak season planning, how the right strategies build optimization, and by applying these nine critical best practices.
The Problem With Poor Peak
Season Fulfillment Strategies
There is a common factor plaguing peak season fulfillment strategies. Poor strategies focus on maintaining the status quo and relying on outdated systems. Outdated systems are not just those that were implemented back in the 1980s. Even systems implemented in this decade are obsolete if they cannot share data between other supply chain platforms. Moreover, failure to apply data and consider the real impact of the upcoming peak season will lead to significant problems.
For instance, reduced application of data may lead to over-ordering or under-ordering inventory, failure to hire enough seasonal workers, an inability to secure available shipping capacity, and more.
The Right Strategies Create the Triumvirate of Warehouse Management
There are three peak season fulfillment strategies that should be used in a closed circuit to create balance in warehouse management. The triumvirate of warehouse management includes conducting robust replenishment, keeping employees productive, and guaranteeing customer service.
These three factors must work in a closed-loop, and any failure within the loop will naturally lead back to failures in the remainder. As a result, all strategies for peak fulfillment must consider the whole operation and how changes may affect other processes.
In a sense, it all goes back to end-to-end visibility and recognizing the dependent and independent processes throughout the warehouse.
Best Practices in Building Peak Fulfillment Strategies
There are ample ways to build better peak season fulfillment strategies. Instead of getting bogged down in the details, let’s focus on nine leading concepts to boost peak warehousing management, including:
- Lean inventory is not optimal for peak season fulfillment. While lean inventory is excellent throughout the year, it can lead to severe consequences during peak season. With a record of increased demand for each peak season, lean inventory strategies may fall short.
- Warehouses need to run around-the-clock through the peak. Fulfillment becomes more time-sensitive as the season progresses. Warehouses should run fulfillment around the clock. However, they must ensure that all evening and night workers receive ample time to rest between shifts, as well as amenities to encourage productivity, including on-site cafeterias and food delivery too. Yes, night and evening workers need a bit more care through the season.
- Track delivery and delivery schedules. Once a shipment leaves, warehouses should still track its progress. Failure to monitor timely delivery after shipping will result in angry customers.
- Benchmark systems to learn their maximum throughput. Benchmarking helps warehouse leaders understand what systems can and cannot do to meet peak volume.
- Reslot the peak season item areas. Reslotting peak areas can improve performance and reduce delays as customer needs evolve through the season.
- Take advantage of omnichannel inventory. Omnichannel inventory includes order fulfillment strategies that leverage brick-and-mortar stores to complete more shipments.
- Integrate systems. Integration improves collaboration and reduces the risk of errors.
- Diversify your supply chain. Working with more supply chain partners lowers overall risk.
- Tap the value of on-demand warehousing. Patrick Cadic of Total Retail notes that on-demand warehousing enables scalability without long-term contracts for peak demand.
Put the Right Systems in Place to Boost Peak Season Operations
This year’s peak season is on track to break more records, and retailers are already releasing their most significant and most impressive holiday sales. Instead of hoping for the best, guarantee your organization’s success with proper planning and fulfillment strategies.