3 Holiday Warehouse Challenges And How Inventory Control Helps
Before summer is even over, retailers around the world gear up for the upcoming holiday season, and it’s little wonder; the National Retail Federation (NRF) projects that U.S. shoppers will shell out nearly $600 billion this year for Christmas gifts alone. If you’re a savvy small business owner, you’ll do what you can to get a piece of the holiday spending pie. Before the first Black Friday purchase is even a dream dancing in your customers’ heads, you need to take measures to avoid the following warehouse challenges:
Too much work, too little time
Count on moving a lot of inventory once Thanksgiving is over. (Or before!) This means busier warehouse workers and less time for inventory control. It’s vital that you put as many safeguards in place so your warehouse will run smoother than Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.
Before the holiday rush begins, you may want to consider investing in an automated inventory control system. Don’t worry, your supply chain won’t come to a halt as you prepare for the holidays. Automated inventory control systems have an implementation that is seamless, and training fits into your day-to-day operations with little to no downtime.
Related Article: A Warehouse and 2D Barcode ScannerWhen you use manual inventory control processes or don’t track inventory at all, you risk not being prepared for the crazy holiday season, and all year round.
Not sure when to re-order stock
When is it time to refresh your stock? You may not even know when to refresh if you’re not using an inventory control software. You probably have a guess of when you need to reorder, but that’s all you’ll have, a guess. Manual processes like pen and paper and Excel spreadsheets end up as endless piles of paper that are tedious to sort through (and get crumpled, dropped, or lost). An automated inventory tracking system has all the important data stored and readily available with a quick swipe of a barcode scanner. You can even create and monitor alerts when the shelves start getting too empty. When you sell the must-have item of the season, the last thing you want to do is disappoint anxious shoppers by running out.
Bottlenecks in gift packaging
There’s nothing like receiving a stunningly wrapped gift on Christmas morning, crisp tissue paper and billowing ribbon, it generates the perfect excitement and atmosphere you are trying to create. A packaging service during the holidays makes your customers’ lives so much easier. During the intense holiday shuffle, if your business doesn’t do it right, a life saving packaging or wrapping business can bottleneck your warehouse, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When your warehouse can’t keep up with your packaging or gift-wrapping processes, shipments get backed up and the very customers you are trying to serve and relieve their holiday pressure won’t be too jolly. Consider following these proactive tips, according to Total Retail:
- Separate orders based on the type of gift packaging they require. For example, gift boxes may go to one set of pack stations, while gift-wrapped products go to others.
- Develop an optimized workflow with inventory control software. That way, all of your processes will be more efficient and built to manage a high volume of gift packaging and other requests that are often vital, especially at this time of year.
Overwhelmed pack and ship stations
Your packing station likely has a limit for what they can accomplish in a day. Don’t assume your employees can automatically “pick up the pace,” and do every task that must be done effectively, just because Black Friday has arrived, and you’re panicked. You need to have dependable data, already in place, to manage your resources, from inventory to manpower, to eliminate shipping backlogs and to be able to manage any increased demand.
Prior to the holidays, you need accurate data about how your pick, pack, and ship processes work best under pressure. Tracking the flow of inventory will easily make pertinent information available to you at all times. Your maximum daily capacity, when compared to peak selling days, will determine when the backlogs can and will occur.
Due to the growing popularity of its organic jewelry, jeweler Philippa Roberts experienced slow pack and ship times. Handwritten tags just didn’t cut it anymore; they decided to integrate a barcode printer.
“Our production and packaging times were greatly expedited by about 30 percent, and we have also been able to organize our products better,” Adam Evans, Production Manager for Philippa Roberts, commented. “Before, we had to cross-reference each item with different store numbers, which was a tedious process. Now, the store number prints directly on the label.”
“Our production and packaging times were greatly expedited by about 30 percent, and we have also been able to organize our products better,”In addition, trade shows were important for networking and sales for Philippa Roberts. Since incorporating inventory control, Philippa tells us she has seen a 20 percent increase in time saved preparing for tradeshows. Rather than copying prices by hand from an Excel spreadsheet, they now store prices on their software and print them directly and easily from reliable information.
If you already use an inventory control system, making sure you have enough scanners, carts, and other equipment available to support the spikes in activity creates a dependable process.
It may even make sense to reorganize pack stations, putting smaller assembly lines in place to support “best-selling” items. Batching pack and ship processes can help them run more efficiently, and is considered a smart move.
It’s guaranteed that you’ll deal with returns when the holidays are over. Chances are a lot of returns or exchanges will not be accompanied by receipts. With all the hustle and bustle, it’s hard enough to know if the item in question is actually from your store. When you are staffed with seasonal workers who may not know your product lines well, mistakes will be made and money will be needlessly lost.
No time to label every item in stock? A great way to prepare your small business for the upcoming shopping season is to implement a “required for return” barcode sticker on gift items. It helps the customer because they don’t have to keep track of a gift receipt. Again, you’ll know the item is definitely from your store.
The holiday rush can be a stressful time for small businesses. Empty shelves and long hours can weigh on the whole staff. The last thing you want is to have both you and your customers lose out during the most important sales season of the year. An automated inventory management system will help you effectively strategize how you can best handle your inventory and pool your resources for the best execution on delivery.
Every major religion has a holiday in December. Some begin in mid-November. What comes off the shelf November 11? Which items need to be packaged by December 10th? Do we have enough items for December 20, and where are they? Can we intermix some items? What items need to be boxed and upfront and ready the last Saturday of December? If you invest in a system before the holiday season is in full swing, it will pay for itself before the New Year…Oh yes, and those pesky ethnic holidays for two different groups on December 31st and January 1st and are you ready for January 6th? This year, be ready wherever and whenever you need to be, and earn more revenue than you thought possible.
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