Supply Chain Management Blog
It may be hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner. And for those of us in the supply chain industry that means just one thing: peak season.
According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans spent $658.3 billion during the 2016 holiday season, and that number is only expected to grow for 2017. That means an enormous amount of product moving through the supply chain – and an opportunity for brands to deliver a premium experience by seamlessly taking, fulfilling and delivering orders on time to their customers.
But a successful holiday season means planning – and lots of it. And similarly to holiday gift shopping, the longer you wait to begin that planning, the fewer options you have, and the more expensive it will be to get everything you need.
Luckily, it’s not too late, and we’re here to help with a checklist of items to ensure your supply chain is in peak health for peak season.
Just like making any other plan, the first step in ensuring your supply chain is ready for peak season is to evaluate where you are today. This means asking questions – everything from how current suppliers and vendors are performing the capacity of your network and the reliability of your IT teams. It also means going outside of your walls and learning about other factors that could affect your performance. Many brands make the mistake of being too insular with their planning, but anything from the local cable company needing to shut internet down for maintenance to overseas vendors closing due to a foreign national holiday can affect your workflow.
Once you’ve evaluated your current status, the next step is to test your capabilities and make a plan for when things go awry. Stress test your network to see how much volume it can handle, and then make a backup plan for getting product through the chain if it goes down unexpectedly. Take a look at your teams and evaluate who needs to be made aware when there are problems, and at exactly what point they will be pulled in. Think about the types of events that could trigger an issue at various points in the supply chain, and come up with solutions to keep them from happening. Having the solutions to these issues on hand will allow you to react more quickly when problems do arise, ultimately lessening their severity and allowing you to transparently communicate the reasons behind any delays or issues to customers.
The final step in the process is to put these plans into action as peak season kicks off. But before you do, make sure you’ve taken the time to communicate these plans to your entire team – everyone from internal warehouse personnel and IT teams to external vendors and partners. Making them aware of the plans and protocols they will be expected to follow will create an environment of transparency, ensuring things run smoothly, even when issues arise.
Peak season can be overwhelming, but having a plan – and various contingency plans – in place can take much of the burden off of teams and help you to feel prepared for whatever comes your way. Here at ModusLink, providing end-to-end supply chain solutions is our specialty. Check out our solutions page to learn more about how we can help you prepare.
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