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Retail Peak Season Preparation

Retail Peak Season Preparation: Why Labor Day Kicks Off the Real Peak Season

When do you start retail peak season preparation in your warehouse? November, October, or earlier? If you haven’t already started planning, you are late to the game. Products are going to be out of stock, available carriers from China are going to cease for Golden Week, and your entire hope for the season will begin to falter. Instead of risking your success, supply chain leaders need to seriously think about how earlier planning equals faster and more effective management of the retail peak season.

Why Waiting Until Fall Is Too Late

Retail peak seasons begins as soon as customers start looking to make purchases for Chinese Golden Week. While this holiday remains relatively unheard of among the American public, it is a vital part of Trans-Pacific trade. Paired with the unrest regarding the U.S.-China tariff battle, retail peak season preparation takes on an even more significant role. Chinese Golden Week begins on October 1, and all shipments in and out of China cease for seven days. For retailers, failure to consider the impact of Golden Week results in an inability to maintain inventory through Halloween. In addition, setbacks at this point contribute to a higher risk of putting out proverbial fires throughout the season.

Material Handling & Logistics advises retailers to start planning for the following peak season much sooner than most. In fact, the publication suggests that retailers start working to improve distribution center practices in February. Ultimately, it is not enough to start planning now—retailers and supply chain leaders need to begin their real plans for growth and higher demand throughout the entire year. This is genuine continuous improvement in the supply chain. 

Tips for Preparing and Executing a Successful 2019 Peak Season Strategy

Preparation and execution of a successful peak season plan must include these steps:

  1. Benchmark your systems to determine volume flexibility, says Manhattan Associates. Benchmarking allows supply chain leaders to isolate problems in the warehouse and determine maximum order fill rates.
  2. Review in-warehouse logistics processes. This step applies data to consider how the layout and activities affect the fill rate.
  3. Reconsider the slots. If your slots have not been optimized within the last quarter, problems may arise. Reslot the warehouse as soon as possible.
  4. Examine outsourcing strategies and partnerships. According to Supply Chain Dive, customer data can help businesses respond to changes in demand faster—a critical concern during retail peak season preparation.
  5. Use data to improve demand forecasting. This is especially important for managing your replenishment strategy throughout peak season.
  6. Plan on staff augmentation. Staff augmentation during the season takes advantage of temporary workers and handles labor-management concerns.
  7. Move all deadlines earlier than needed. Advanced deadlines provide wiggle-room to handle changes in activity.

Ensure Your Systems Are Ready for the Coming Wave of Demand

Peak season 2019 may indeed fall short of the strong growth seen in 2018. However, the instability and uncertainty of the economy only strengthen the argument for better retail peak season preparation, starting at Labor Day and continuing well into the season. Find out how your systems stack up against the warehousing competition by visiting Veridian online today.

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