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Is your logistics process ready for the festive season?

Logistics process in festive season.

Despite the recent UK finance mini-budget and the effect on disposable income, customer demand will still increase during the next few weeks. Shoppers have adopted the US Black Friday trading day as their own, extending the Festive Season from the end of November through to early January. Consumer behaviour drives our actions. The aim is to provide customers with what they want, when and where they want it. For a smooth and successful December, we need to plan for all eventualities. What we can expect:

  • Inventory levels will be depleted quickly
  • Pressure on the replenishment process
  • Orders being cancelled and items being returned
  • Brisk competition for seasonal workers
  • A battle for short-term transport services

It is not too late to prepare but time is running out.  Focus is on:

Monitoring inventory and order fulfilment

Tracking orders in real-time is vital. As soon as requirements are known replenishment plans can be put in place. Stock-outs must be prevented to avoid disappointing customers.  Accurate order forecasts based on past sales history and consumer feedback helps to define inventory levels. Warehouse storage areas can be optimised to speed up packing and picking efficiency. An automated warehouse management system (WMS) and other technology tools can provide efficiency and accuracy in the order fulfilment process.

TIP: Establishing partnerships with trusted suppliers will ensure cooperation and support when the speed picks up and quantities are limited. 

Returns management 

E-commerce has created an increase in orders being cancelled or returned. Omnichannel facilities have created an opportunity for customers to return goods to stores even if they bought them online. This is both a logistics and a customer service problem.

The returns process must be simple and stress-free to retain customers. This is difficult to achieve without the infrastructure and expertise. A growing trend is to outsource returns management to a third-party logistics specialist (3PL).  

TIP: To minimise returns and cancellations, communicate your return policy to customers and provide them with easy-to-use packaging and return labels.

Resourcing

Traditionally, seasonal workers are hired on a flexible hour’s basis, depending on the level of sales activity. Use the knowledge gained from last year’s December period to review expected requirements and build in a contingency. Every truck and van require a licensed and capable driver. At this time staff are expected to do more with less and be multi-skilled. Make it a meaningful work experience for everyone. 

TIP:  Estimate your need for temporary staff and secure the resources now. Temporary staff needs to be trained on your processes and expectations which takes time.

Delivery logistics  

It is not too late to upgrade the technology that streamlines the process of scheduling and route optimisation. Based on sales forecasts you can simulate peak requirements for drivers and vehicles and devise alternative routes. Outsourcing peak-season deliveries may not always result in savings. Offering alternative delivery options such as click-and-collect, next-day delivery or ship-to-local-store gives the customer more choice and can take pressure off the costs of transport. Consider using a supply chain consultancy to advise on alternative cost models and negotiation techniques that will result in the required services at the right price. 

TIP: Find new ways to work with 3PL companies. Delivery loads can be shared especially in high-traffic urban areas. 

The Festive Season doesn’t need to be a time full of stress and discomfort. It is the perfect time to gain and retain customers by delivering the best delivery experience. Regular and timely communication through the order-to-delivery timeline is the differentiator.

Taking proactive measures to reduce the impact of potential crises reduces anxiety.

SCCG provides solutions to help businesses achieve success during the peak season.

We advise on streamlining order fulfilment and inventory management and how to deliver goods efficiently and economically. Our expertise includes the selection and implementation of the most suitable technology to optimise your supply chain processes, helping to mitigate the impact of inflation and current market challenges.

Let us know how we can help you and your business by contacting us on 01926430883 or send the enquiry to [email protected].

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