It may not feel like it yet, but the holidays are already upon us. As a third-party logistics company, if you aren’t yet planning for the rush that comes at the end of the year, then you’re already behind. When it comes to logistics, you need to be ahead of the game, and the holidays are just around the corner.
Fortunately, even if you are falling behind (relatively speaking), there is still time to get on top of things. Today we’re going to discuss five different ways that you can prepare for the season to come so that you won’t be scrambling and trying to keep up when it hits. Best of all, you can save these tips for next year so that you can start planning for Halloween back in June.
1. Check Your Connections and Systems
One thing that you don’t want to have happen when the full onslaught of orders comes in is for your system to go down. Whether it’s a network issue or something wrong with the hardware, any delay can be costly, particularly during that time of year.
As such, now is when you should be monitoring and updating your connections to make sure that they are in tip top shape when your orders start piling up. If necessary, upgrade to new equipment beforehand so that you have less of a chance of running into any issues.
At this stage, take the time to check out all components of your warehouse management systems, particularly how they interact with your customers and suppliers. Check in with them to see if anythings seems out of place or if something is lagging so that you can correct it ASAP. While your back of house system will be crucial, you can’t lapse on the front end when interacting with your clientele.
2. Monitor and Update Your E-Commerce Engines
With online shopping becoming bigger every year, it’s more crucial than ever to check on your e-commerce engines, most notably the shopping cart. Customers will be filling out orders and sending them at all hours of the day, so you have to be ready to handle the load while also providing an excellent experience for the user.
If your e-commerce software had any problems last year, be sure to check and see if they have been corrected for this year. Also, if necessary, upgrade to a newer system so that you can avoid lag times and delays.
Not only that but if you can switch to a more comprehensive shopping cart that allows for better customization and an improved user experience, you can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Simply put, the easier it is for the customer to place an order, the more you will get.
3. Train Staff on Handling Procedures
Fulfillment is one of the cornerstones of your business, but you shouldn’t let the holidays affect how well you manage your inventory. Too often, employees are rushed during the busy season, meaning that standards fall and items get damaged or destroyed.
While you may think that it’s an inevitable side-effect of the situation, the fact is that you can always make improvements. The best place to start is to see how well you did last year and then create benchmarks for this upcoming season. Not only that, but you should also work on developing new procedures that can mitigate any damage that may happen and ensure that your standards are always met, even when the warehouse is at full capacity.
Overall, your main focus should be to uphold your current levels and make sure that you are representing your clients in the best possible way. This is both on the supply and consumer side, so be sure to pay attention to both.
4. Talk to Your Partners
One of the biggest side effects of online shopping is that more items than ever are being shipped by small parcel companies. As such, you want to reach out to your partners and work with them to ensure that they are prepared to handle the rush as well. Even if you are dialed in, if a partner carrier is lagging it can affect the whole system.
Now is the time to communicate with them about their needs and what you can do to make everything run smoother. Even if it requires more effort on your end, the bottom line is that you want to minimize delays and keep your customers happy. As such, you should be willing to step up to the plate and work with all of your partners to make that happen, whatever the cost may be. Think of it as an investment in your potential holiday earnings.
5. Upgrade Your Warehouse Management System
Are you currently capable of handling a holiday rush? If tomorrow your number of orders tripled, would you be able to stay on top of it? If not, then you might need to look at your WMS and see what has to be improved. Overall, the system should be scalable, seamlessly integrate with all of your hardware, and be flexible. If not, then it could affect your whole chain and disrupt the workflow.
Again, see what issues you encountered in years past and make sure that you are doing everything you can to correct them this season. The sooner you do, the better off you will be when the time comes. Remember, the goal is to be in front of the eight ball, not behind it.
The Bottom Line
Simply put, even though we are still a couple of months away from the onslaught of holiday shopping and shipping, it is never too early to develop a plan of action and get your company ready for success. Also, you should go into each season with the idea that you will improve from the year before until everything is absolutely perfect. This will empower you to succeed more than you thought possible and will keep your company on top.