There may be times customer orders pick up throughout the year; however, in general, the fourth quarter is most demanding for a warehouse distribution facility. If you weren’t 100% satisfied with how last year’s peak season went, now is the time to examine your options to ensure you are providing the best solution to keep happy, repeat customers.
Before summer is in full swing, it’s time to figure out what part of your order experience didn’t function well last year and seek to find strategic improvements that are best for your business.
Peak season is a huge challenge for companies like yours, whether you manage it inhouse or have a 3PL that provides your order fulfillment. Effectively meeting the need throughout the year regardless of volume is something not every provider can do well.
Efficiency Is Not Guaranteed
It can be easy to fall into a comfortable situation with your current fulfillment solution and think that switching would be too difficult. But, you must be sure your solution includes the right tools and resources to tackle your volume needs for every season. Are you confident your solution will do an amazing job this upcoming busy season? If you hesitated, it may be time to take a closer look at your current solution and explore other options.
Your customers rely on consistent service levels year-over-year. So ask yourself, is my solution as efficient right now as I need it to be and can it sustain that service level?
Planning Ahead for Peak Season
For most retail-based businesses, the majority of revenue is generated over an 8 to 12-week holiday shopping period. What would inefficient fulfillment methods do to your existing customers? What impact could that have on your business’s bottom line? Don’t neglect to recognize the impact bad fulfillment could have on your business and customers!
Customers are expecting their orders within three business days or less. If orders take longer than that, your customers may seek out your competitor instead.
Scaling Up Matters
Distribution centers should be shifting from working business hours five days a week, to double shifts for seven days a week, during peak times. Find out if your fulfillment solution is planning to scale up for peak season! Ask them if they if the facility supports a major increase in order volume?
Sit down with your provider now to address any additional requirements your business may need during the holiday season. It is important to have your solutions addressed and put on paper to hold everyone accountable. Take the time necessary now to meet with your provider to understand their plan to support your business and your customers.
Ability to Scale Up
The ability to scale up during busy seasons means having the right personnel in place to handle situations without any quality decreases. Be sure to ask how customer concerns will be addressed during busy times.
Both people and machines will be working harder, so a clear solution / path for success is necessary. If the people and machines have to run at maximum capacity for twelve weeks, what happens when (not if) equipment breaks down? Can maintenance or servicing be done and not interrupt order fulfillment? Do they have staffed resources for maintenance and repairs? Does your provider have additional equipment and the trained personnel to use it efficiently and effectively without disruptions?
Questions to ask yourself while evaluating if the right innovative solutions are in place for your success:
- Did anything happen last year that disrupted our business or lost us business?
- How efficiently did your solution operate to fill orders? Could it be better?
- Does your provider have constant training for their employees to handle difficult situations?
- Can your provider tackle all upgrades to processes and equipment during the slower times, so production is not slowed during busy season?
It is pertinent to re-evaluate your fulfillment solution annually. Ask yourself and the provider, if they can tackle all the complexities of your seasonal order fulfillment? If any concerns are revealed, it could be time to sit down with them to address what fixes will be made, or it may be time to find a new solution that meets your needs and has a scalable model.
If you are interested in speaking with us regarding how we have prepared to manage our clients' peak seasons call today 1-800-225-7145!