Some Quick Distribution Center Fixes Before the Holiday Season

Even though fall is just about upon us, there is still a window of opportunity to make sure your distribution center is ready for this year’s holiday peak season.

Just think back to last year for a moment. Can you afford to have Round 2 of the peak distribution center issues you faced then? You may have completed a brief review of what worked and what needs to change. Dust off that document and review with management the outlined distribution center issues from last year and the ones that still need to be addressed. This should be done before any other areas of the distribution center are assessed and tackled.

If you’re starting from scratch, here are a couple quick assessments and fixes to help get your distribution center facility, staff and operations prepped and ready for this year’s peak season.

Order Projections

Many holiday-dependent businesses receive as many as 50% of their orders in the fourth quarter, with most coming in December. Things to consider:

  • Do you have the latest order flow projections from sales and marketing? Have you broken them down to the daily level?
  • Once you get into the season, do you have an automated or quick way to adjust the daily order flow up or down based on response?

Freight and Shipping

  • Have you shared your shipping projections with your key carriers? Do they have enough equipment in place to handle your volume?
  • Do you have a backup plan in place in case of labor issues?

Information Systems

We believe that as a matter of policy, companies should not make any significant changes to key information systems once the peak season starts. We have seen IT and management try to rush in a new system in October, even though the project has been lagging behind all year, with disastrous outcomes that put the business at risk.

What IT considerations need to be addressed on an emergency basis to get through the peak? These may be more operational in nature.

Third-Party Fulfillment

Can you use a 3PL to level out your peak fulfillment needs? We have had clients use this strategy for shipping a limited assortment of their best-selling products. It’s affordable and can be implemented in 90 days.

Curt Barry is president of F. Curtis Barry & Company.

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