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12 tips for supply chain success during the holidays

Posted: 02 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:supply chain? inventory? stock planning? logistics?

The holiday rush has kicked in and companies are positive that sales will pick up soon, especially now that consumers have the ability to make a purchase using different channels.

According to Deloitte's holiday survey, shoppers who visit stores as well as online and mobile destinations are expected to spend 75 per cent more on holiday purchases than those who only shop in stores. Retailers are attempting to meet the needs and demands of consumers by offering differentiators such as cost, speed and availability through free shipping or speedy checkouts, as examples.

With high expectations come high demands for supply chain logistics. Preparing supply chain operations for the holiday can seem like a daunting task, but the sooner companies implement some proven best practices, the more strategic value they can add the organisationand the more likely they will be to avoid a potentially costly meltdown during the most wonderful time of the year.

By understanding the complexities of business operations and addressing them well in advance, companies can speed time to value, lower total cost of ownership and optimise supply chain functionality so that the organisation can deliver seamlessly on customer expectations.

Supply chain

Following are a number of tips to make sure nothing falls through the cracks the next few weeks, as well as five longer-term strategies organisations should be thinking about now to prepare for next year's rush. Here are some short-term and long-term strategies for holiday success.

Short-term tips

1. Go through warehouse problem piles to locate missing inventory.

Misplacements increase ordering, inventory, fulfilment and transportation costs. They can also increase seasonal stock levels potentially causing additional write-offs.

2. Quick-cycle count 'hot' items and highlight those with long lead times to improve stock planning.

Popular items are quick to fly off the shelves, so once holiday demand projections are finished, accuracy of inventory counts for fast moving and/or long lead time items is crucial for confidently booking and fulfilling orders.

3. Inventory check with suppliers for raw materials, packaging, package inserts, etc.

It's important to stay in communication with trading partners as well. Shortages upstream in the supply chain often result in lost holiday profits and customers frustrated with your brand.

4. Shore up capacity and availability with logistics and transportation providers.

Know where you are in priority with each trading partner so any bumps or delays in service can be better anticipated with contingency plans.

5. Review recent defect and field failure/return rates for products, ranked from most popular, to ensure stock available for timely replacement.

Returns and RMA's are inevitable. Customers expect a rapid turnaround for defective gifts both given and received.

6. Check with customers and channels for any shifts in order projections or promotion activity that could increase or decrease demand.

It's impossible to predict the future, but staying one step aheador at least being preparedcan minimise the potential for too little or too much inventory and the ripple effect on order fulfilment, customer satisfaction and holiday profits.

7. Watch customer expense to revenue ratio to minimise financial risk of overbuild/overstock.

Regardless of customer holiday projections, it's always a good idea to keep the value of both raw materials and FGI for their products available for comparison and risk management.


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