Potpourri Group president/CEO Jonathan Fleischmann is ready for this year’s holiday rush, especially starting with the crucial period from Nov. 1 through mid-December.
What changed from last year’s holiday season to now?
Fleischmann says the multititle mailer implemented a conveyor system and material handling enhancements to reduce walk time and increase productivity. What’s more, the company developed enhanced capabilities for forecasting SKU velocity, which further reduces walk-time through optimizing primary picking locations.
“From an IT perspective, we have increased capacity and server redundancy in advance of the season to ensure system performance and reduce down-time risk,” he says.
So what are Fleischmann’s top five challenges during the holiday season?
Recruiting, training and retaining quality seasonal help, he says.
Dealing with consumers’ propensity to order later and later each year.
Inventory forecasting at the SKU level has become more challenging as ecommerce-driven ordering grows. Projecting catalog-driven inventory needs has never been a perfect science, Fleischmann says, “but with sound forecasting tools, it has historically been quite manageable.”
Last year the Northeast endured a horrific winter as far as snowfall and Potpourri, based in Chelmsford, MA, was right in the thick of it.
“We experienced significant snowfall here in Massachusetts, even to the point of having both our warehouse and corporate office roofs shoveled for the first time ever, but the team persevered and got the job done,” Fleischmann says.
Fortunately for Fleischmann, the company only had to close for two days, “but it was post-holiday and we were able to catch up quickly.”
Does Fleischmann have any other holiday tips?
Take full advantage of selective binding to create ‘right-sized and right-content’ catalogs, he says, and cover versions for buyers and prospects, as well as to maximize the opportunity to communicate in a coordinated manner with customers via email with both traditional weekly outbound offers as well as on an “event-triggered” basis.