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OPINION How to prepare your warehouse for seasonal retail promotions


John Burgess, project delivery director at supply chain solutions provider Balloon One, discusses the ways how to prepare your warehouse for retail promotions in busy periods.
When you’re offering seasonal retail promotions, demand for your products will be high, which is great news for your profit margins. But, your warehouse will also be at its busiest, so you’ll need to prepare in order for everything to run smoothly. Below, I’ll be going through the top three ways you can prepare your warehouse to deal with the busy holiday season.

Forecast your demand and plan ahead

Managing the busy period is all about planning ahead. You don’t want to be stuck with low stock levels and pending orders that you can’t meet, as this can put a halt to your work and customers will soon start to lose faith in your brand. It can also end up costing your company more money for packing and shipping costs if you need to send out orders in multiple packages as new stock arrives. But, if you over-order, you could end up with a warehouse full of stock that you can’t get rid of.

So, you’ll need to find an effective way to forecast the demand before your orders come through. To do this, look at sales data from previous years and analyse current retail trends to predict this year’s demand and see what you need to buy more of.

It’s not just your stock levels that you’ll need to predict and prepare, though. For example, customers will still expect their items to be delivered in the usual timeframe, and this can be a big ask for your existing staff. So, you might need to review your current number of employees and take on extra temporary employees over the busy season. To keep everything running smoothly, new staff will need to be trained as soon as possible so they can hit the ground running, so consider a group training session to save on time and assign them a mentor who can help when they get stuck.

Improve warehouse and transport efficiency

When your warehouse is busy, it’s wise to make all of your processes more efficient. Start with your warehouse layout. Can you move more popular products to the ground floor near the packing area? Are certain products often ordered together and, if so, can they be stored in the same area? Altering your warehouse layout in this way will make the process of picking and packing quicker, meaning you’re more likely to get orders out on time.

Transport and logistics are also extremely important aspects of getting orders out on time and there are a number of ways you can make these processes more efficient. If you’ve got bulk orders to nearby cities and towns, try to send them out together to reduce the amount of time they spend in transport.

Extreme weather, especially in the winter, can put a halt to deliveries, and therefore your whole supply chain process. So, you should also monitor the weather closely. Then, if you notice any changes that might affect your delivery times, you can plan an alternative route or prepare and send out deliveries earlier to avoid it.

Don’t forget about returns, either, as a higher volume of orders means you may get more items coming back. So, make sure your returns process is streamlined so that items can be inspected quickly, following a standardised system, and sorted into categories based on their quality. Then, high-quality items can be put back on the shelf right away, ready to be picked for a new order.

Invest in new programmes and software

New technology is quickly finding its place in more and more areas of the supply chain, and with good reason. Incorporating automated systems into your warehouse can improve efficiency, communication, forecasting, and customer service, which are key aspects to get right at any time of year.

There is a wide range of software available to help you manage your warehouse and logistics. For example, there are cloud-based systems to help track delivery vehicles and proof of delivery, so you can send customers up-to-date information about their order. There are also warehouse management systems that allow you to keep track of stock volumes and order details. And, because it’s all controlled via the cloud and available to all members of staff and departments, internal communication can be improved as well. As can communication between your company and customers.

Whether it’s Black Friday or the run up to Christmas, offering seasonal retail promotions is a great way to boost your sales. With these three tips, you’ll be able to keep on top of everything and make sure that your warehouse and logistics are running smoothly during the busy period.

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