Last-minute holiday advice

You’ve done the forecasting, stocked the shelves, and hired the extra workers. But are you fully prepared for the holiday season? Although you won’t know for sure until you’re in the middle of the ordering onslaught, you can double-check your preparations and readiness in the meantime.

“We run through a series of `what ifs’ to test our readiness,” says Ed Coleman, vice president of catalog for Atlanta-based food gifts company HoneyBaked Ham. “For instance, `If holiday sales are trending up, how quickly can we get more products from our vendor?'”

If it’s too late to order more products, be prepared with alternative merchandise, Coleman says. “We monitor our inventory carefully so that our telephone reps are ready with upsell or cross-sell suggestions” should any particular items run out.

On the fulfillment end, make sure you have enough supplies and packing materials – or be sure you can get more in a hurry. And don’t forget that to fulfill increased orders during the holidays, you’ll need more raw materials, such as corrugated, tape, and dunnage, says John Rice, executive vice president of operations for Oshkosh, WI-based gifts catalog Miles Kimball.

The carrier factor

Also, be certain you know your parcel carrier’s delivery schedule before Christmas, Rice says. For instance, United Parcel Service limits the number of parcels that Miles Kimball can ship in the days leading up to Christmas, based on the cataloger’s average number of weekly shipments. To play it safe, Miles Kimball tries to ship as many items as possible before the UPS cutoff and has an alternate carrier ready as a back-up.

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