4 Ways to Prep for Your Peak Season

Sep 19, 2012 1:06 AM  By

Peak season is about execution. Never is it more critical for your operations to deliver products quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively than when business is booming. Whether your peak season is related to Santa, summer, or back-to-school, here are four important tips that can help you prepare your retail operations for your seasonal spike.

Follow US!

@MCMerchant
Multichannel Merchant
Multichannel Merchant
Multichannel Merchant
O+F Operations and Fulfillment

Plan Ahead
Forecasting is one thing, but forecasting for your busy season is a different ballgame. You need to be able to anticipate peak demand as accurately as possible so that you have enough inventory in stock. You also need to be adequately staffed to handle order execution at a time of high demand – all while managing your labor costs to avoid breaking the bank. While an exact figure or statistic is not always plausible, it’s better to be prepared well in advance for bigger demand requirements. That means planning your warehouse staffing, marketing calendar, and customer service needs months in advance. The best time to start? Right after this year’s peak season ends!

Tailor Your Marketing Campaigns
Your busiest season might seem like a crazy time to introduce new initiatives, but with the right amount of planning and a long timeframe for implementation, it can truly work in a retailer’s favor. Consider including package inserts for your highest sellers, such as a coupon for a slower-moving product or an upcoming catalog for your non-peak season. Play up the significance of the custom fulfillment services you offer, such as gift-wrapping during the holidays or engraving during the graduation season. If it makes sense during high-volume times, offer free shipping to customers who purchase over a certain dollar amount or buy a certain product.

Ramp Up the Contact Center
Forecasting your labor needs goes beyond your fulfillment staff: it includes your contact center as well. Your customer service team needs a solid forecast to know how many new agents to hire, which high-selling products to train on, what complimentary items to up-sell, and which promotions to reference when on the phone with your customers. Because contact center agents are the voice of your brand, be sure to allow plenty of time to recruit, hire, and train new staff in your forecasting plans.

Check Your Calendar
The most basic rule of peak-season survival is often the most ignored. Why is it so important? If your seasonal peaks depend on holidays, for example, looking at the days of the week that the holidays fall on gives you the ability to better predict shopper behavior, provide estimated shipping deadlines, and execute time-sensitive marketing campaigns. (Hint: Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday this year, which means a weekend is right before Christmas Eve!).

Jonathan Kusnitz is the director of operations for outsourced order fulfillment provider Fifth Gear.