The holidays are always an exciting time of the year, but they can also be highly stressful for unprepared businesses. The National Retail Federation states that as much as 40 percent of annual retail sales come from the holiday season, and predict retail sales for 2016 to grow over last year, which means this year’s holidays will likely be even more demanding than last year. There are, however, ways to prepare for the big rush that can increase efficiency and decrease stress levels.
1. They say history never repeats itself, but we can certainly learn quite a bit by sifting through historical data. While sales won’t always be the same, looking at previous years’ sales trends can help predict what this year might look like. This is a crucial step in preparing for the holiday rush because it gives insights into what is “normal” during this time of year. Examine this data carefully and plan accordingly.
2. Another way to prepare for the rush is by renting material handling equipment. If you have equipment unexpectedly break down, operators stand idle, you lose productivity, and deliveries can be late or even missed. The holiday season typically is the busiest of the year, with more inventory being moved, so temporarily expanding your forklift fleet to mitigate any business disruption during this seasonal uptick in activity will help keep the warehouse running smoothly.
3. An often overlooked part of preparation is hiring temporary staff to cope with an increased workload. Seasonal employees ensure that operations remain efficient. Due to the increasing popularity of online shopping, retailers are staffing more warehouse workers and fewer cashiers. This is a good time to review your historical sales data to predict how many workers you’ll need to move inventory and keep your operations optimal. The answers are all in the numbers!
4. It’s important to properly train seasonal warehouse workers. After all, more bodies do not automatically result in more production. Train new hires to succeed by investing in safety best practices, like pedestrian training, and educate them on the potential dangers facing them in their environment. Also keep in mind, properly trained forklift operators is not only an OSHA requirement but make fewer mistakes, leading to greater accuracy and efficiency, and will be your biggest asset in the survival of the holiday rush.
5. We are constantly assessing warehouse layouts for maximum efficiency and the holiday season should be no different. Your fastest-moving products need to be easily accessible for quick picking and optimized operations. Between 80 and 90 percent of total revenue comes from only ten to 20 percent of products sold, so slotting these ‘hot items’ in easily accessible spots in the warehouse cuts down on picking and travel time and ultimately increases performance. Fine-tune your methods now so, come the rush, you’ve got less to worry about.
6. During all the chaos, space may become limited, which can cause serious problems in the warehouse. Space is the most valuable feature of the warehouse, so consider utilizing a third party logistic (3PL) provider to rent you space to store your products so you can gain back valuable real estate in your warehouse. Or, if you move quickly, let us help you gain valuable space through the various technologies we employ to improve storage density. This allows for new inventory to come in with no worries and usually increases productivity to boot.
We understand that you can never prepare for everything, but by planning for some of the biggest hassles during your business’ busiest time of year, you can smooth out many kinks ahead of time. Always prepare for the unexpected and the worst case scenario, but also recognize that some things will happen that you hadn’t even thought of. Surviving the holiday season is possible, it just takes a bit of planning and preparation.
How are you preparing for the holiday rush?