Tick tock. Tick tock. The countdown has begun. Time is getting short for holiday shipping. Due to continued staff reductions in many shipping and warehousing businesses, all members of the supply chain should anticipate delays. That means shipping from point of origin needs to happen sooner – whether it’s to the retail location or to the end user’s home or office.
When June of 2020 found us still in the early phases of venturing out of our mandatory quarantines, we thought things would be back to normal by August. In August, we suggested a few things that could be helpful as life and shipping returned to normal by fall. While we know we’re now looking at a new normal, we also know that these efficiencies remain important, if we are to orchestrate a successful holiday season. Presumably you have checked the following off your list and are prepared for any “rush” to come:
- You know your inventory. You know its location and how it’s organized.
- You’re receiving holiday shipments already and you have brought them into your inventory, storing the contents in a convenient, easy-to-reach space and on pallets providing at-a-glance storage.
- You have an idea of what’s going out in the next 30-45 days. It is prioritized in rack system shelving or open pallets. Your shipments for Black Friday sales are already locked and loaded. The shippers are scheduled and you are confident this inventory will arrive on time at its destination. Or, if you’re really on top of it, those products went out before Halloween.
- You’re prepared for returns. These will likely start even before the holidays come, but because you are an efficient planner, you have a robust staff of service people who are excellent at their jobs and are empowered to help customers solve their issues. You have given them the tools to make restocking a cinch.
- You have scheduled your staff with enough depth to cover even the biggest order requests in a timely fashion.
- You have established an inclement weather policy, along with a communications plan for that policy and a plan on how you will make up for lost time resulting from bad weather. You have built this time into your delivery strategy.
- You have safety tips and safety rules for all full-time, part-time, temporary and new employees. You are prepared to communicate these rules to them upon their reporting to work. You don’t have time for accidents.
- You have a problem-solving team in place to address any customer challenges that may occur.
- You know what vacant space you have available, should any new inventory arrive or any new business knock at your door.
- You have done your own holiday shopping already and planned any celebrations incorporating social distancing.
- You’re ready for the rush!