Holidays are the most wonderful time for many. It revolves around family, friends, celebrations and of course gifts. The happy spirit of holidays also brings in the biggest spike in online purchases and this influx of orders requires your fulfillment center to be holiday ready. It’s the busiest time of the year if you manage a fulfillment center. Your clients expect the online orders to be delivered effectively and efficiently. If you’re not prepared for it could get chaotic quickly. Handling this logistical challenge can make or break your company’s repute. We listed five tips for you to ensure that as a fulfillment center you are holiday-ready.
I. BE WELL STAFFED
Employing and training skilled personnel for the seasonal rushes can be a big challenge. It is best to begin the hiring process well in advance of the holiday season as new employees would require time for training for handling independent workload during an inflow of holiday purchases.
These candidates can be found through employee referrals. Monetary incentives or other forms of benefits can be offered to employees for the candidates hired through their referrals. This would help in ensuring that only a selection of highly qualified candidates are passed on to the hiring team.
Team up new recruits with the more experienced employees to guide them through the processes until they are confident and prepared to handle tasks on their own.
II. REVISING FULFILLMENT CENTER LAYOUTS
Holidays stack up orders for D2C brands and online sellers. This means a fulfillment center better be ready to accommodate the extra merchandise. To ensure increased efficiency you need to review and reorganize the layout at the forefront of the holidays. An optimum fulfillment center layout should facilitate you to keep pace with surging purchases and intricate processes related to gift wrapping.
Pick and pack lines should be organized to improve the station capacities. Bestsellers could be positioned to the most effective positions in increase pick times. Holidays demand a personalized touch to all the packages being received by the recipient which could range from premium packaging, personalized messages and exquisite gift wrapping. These premium services should be allotted seperate stations to avoid any collision or mismanagement.
Also, necessities for each pick and pack station should be arranged for ahead of time as a shortage of those supplies could obstruct the efficiency of fulfillment centers. Modifications like these can support in cutting expenses and guarantee optimum order turn time.
III. FORECASTING IS YOUR FRIEND
Getting holiday ready, the key initial step for fulfilment centres is to create forecasting models. Projections should cover order approximations coming in till the holiday season starting from at least two weeks ahead.
In addition to optimized layouts, order and inventory forecasting can be used to find out whether you require more maintenance and repair supplies before the holiday rush. If your facility was exhausted the previous season and required additional supplies or spacing, then most likely it would be required next year as well.
Incorrect or unfinished estimations could be dreadful as the holidays approach near. Look back at prior order patterns to recognize the numbers, render, and type of the products at the Stock keeping unit (SKU) level to assess future storage requirements.
Accurate predication can also help in understanding a breakdown of delivery hotspots so warehouse locations and storage areas can be prepared for appropriately.
IV. SOLID RETURNS / EXCHANGE SYSTEM
Handling reverse logistics is critical for any fulfillment center. It is a key factor to deliver supreme customer satisfaction. Holiday season brings in a loads of orders but on the flip side, many exchanges and returns are also placed within the same time. Organized stations for detailed inspections are also required be to in place to fast-track re-allocation and speedy shipment of products either to the customer of back to the retailer.
V. KEEP CLOSE WITH YOUR CARRIERS
Fulfillment centers should keep in frequent contact with their delivery partners and courier companies to ensure timely pick-up and delivery. During the holiday season, delivery and courier companies might themselves be swamped with peaks in demand. Hence, its critical to ensure prior planning is done with them in terms of additional orders from your side. This will help in making sure that your carrier partners are sufficiently equipped to cope with your expected order deliveries. Question carriers to ascertain their abilities to be able to adjust to unexpected surges in orders through the holiday peaks and gain a competitive advantage by negotiating early prices.
So, is your fulfillment center ready for holiday season?