The Christmas holidays have always been a busy period for the retail industry, and the growing interest in Black Friday and Cyber Monday has prolonged the intense season during later years. Add to that juggling complex omni strategies, with store replenishment and online purchases competing for resources, and it’s enough to make the coolest warehouse manager break a sweat.
Apart from keeping up with added pressure on the regular inbound, put away, picking, and packing processes, return handling is a particular Achilles heel in many warehouses during holiday shopping. If not done properly a lot of resources will be caught up in processing returns and handling a lot of stock (from returns) which is not available yet.
But how to release the warehouse pressure during peak periods? A common solution is to simply temporarily increase the workforce. But this is an expensive way to solve the problem (if at all possible, when all companies fight for the same people). To instead use technical solutions to make it through the holidays can be much more effective.
HOW TO PLAN LOGISTICS FOR BLACK FRIDAY
An effective WMS contains tons of data you can use to make your warehouse more effective during peak periods. And the analyzing tools to draw the right conclusions from it. The key is to use data from last year to plan ahead, let your WMS capabilities optimize your operations during the rush, and then analyze what went right and wrong afterwards. Depending on consumer behavior and warehouse resources some valuable measures can be to:
- Announce a longer delivery time before the spike on the website and social media.
- Motivate the customers to spread their buying by giving pre-Black Friday or post-Cyber Monday discounts. Or to reveal a new discount per day.
- Use omni channel to prevent blackouts in the supply chains. For example, offer certain articles only online and others only in store. This will decrease the diversification of article handling in the warehouse.
- Put up screens in the warehouse to visualize productivity and motivate warehouse workers.
To conclude, using the power of your WMS to optimize your warehouse operations during peak times can make you not only survive Black Friday, but actually use it to make your operations better. Even when business is less intense. Or as our customer Stefan Svensson, Logistics Manager at NetOnNet, puts it:
“Black Friday can be a logistic nightmare with very high demands in a very short period. But it’s also one of the best days of the year, because we get the chance to challenge ourselves, improving, renewing and finetuning our processes.”
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