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What Retailers Can Learn from Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day

We’re all used to Black Friday, and (more recently) Cyber Monday, but it now looks like Prime Day is set to be another date in the shopping frenzy calendar.  Amazon’s third annual Prime Day is July 11th (though deals are already underway – check them out here!), and early projections show that it could generate as much as $1 billion in revenue for the behemoth retailer. Clearly Amazon is doing something right.

Not only will we see some great deals for consumers, but Amazon will get to flex its online sales and logistical muscle – and that’s a big deal.  Unlike a lot of logistics and online sale platforms, the Amazon backbone is designed for this sort of scale, taking advantage of substantial year-over-year investments in fulfillment centers, automation, sortation, middle-mile and last-mile operations.  If you still think of Amazon as just an online retailer, you need to think again – it’s undoubtedly the most sophisticated technical and logistical company on the planet.  So what can the rest of us in logistics and online operations learn from this?

Plan, Execute, Learn, Repeat

Plan: You’ve probably heard of the Jeff Bezos ‘Day 1’ philosophy, but it’s fundamental to how the company operates.  Don’t underestimate the importance of detailed planning whenever you go into a peak period but also realize that no plan will survive first contact with consumers.  Run scenarios such as what happens at 50% of your forecast, 150%, 200% and even 500% and have these scenario plans available so that as you see the demand coming through you reach for the revised plan, rather than having to come up with one on the spot.

Execute: Flawless execution is important during any peak period, but it cannot start with peak.  Instilling operational excellence and setting expectations during non-peak will create the right expectations across your entire workforce so that you have the right mindset when it matters most.  Rigorous and relentless focus on operational excellence is crucial whether it’s in physical operations, contact centers, online sales or support teams.

Learn: As you come out of the peak you have to learn about what worked, what didn’t work and what you’ll do differently next time.  It’s tempting to breathe a huge sigh of relief after the peak has passed and to start planning the next big thing, but if you don’t have an effective process to capture these learnings you’ll miss the opportunity to improve.  Some organizations call this a “post-mortem” process but I prefer to call this the “after-action” process.  Planning for the next peak starts with an effective after-action process.  And remember, if there are failings, focus on attacking the process and not the people.

Repeat: Use your after-action learnings to create the bones of your next peak plan.  Having a continuous peak planning process that incorporates all of these elements will continue to push the organization and individuals within it.

Consumer demands aren’t waning anytime soon and having an effective approach to peak planning is a must in today’s fast-moving businesses.  At ModusLink, our goal is to make sure you can keep up with the speed of business by providing end to end solutions for your supply chain. For more information, check out our variety of offerings here.

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