3 Procurement and Fulfillment Tips to Handle the Holidays.
The holiday season is almost upon us. The busiest shopping season of the year for most retailers will be a mixed bag this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t know what’s in store for this holiday season, but we can certainly prepare for everything, almost!
Order fulfillment providers and procurement specialists/partners are doing their best to plan and get their operations fine tuned for the holidays. They are fully aware of all the challenges they will face, from increased demand to bad weather. They are putting into place seasonal policies which they use to handle the holidays like they do every year. This year will be a little different, again, because of the Covid-19 impact on manufacturing and shipping.
On your part, plan and communicate with your in-house procurement specialist or your outsourced procurement company on your expectations and their preparations for the holiday season. I’m sure they will be happy to go through their plans.
1. Forecast Inventory Early
Using past years’ sales data, you need to forecast your inventory early so that you do not get caught in the mad rush of increased production for the holidays. Ensure that your inventory manager has done accurate stock takes of your inventory. If you use a 3PL that handles your inventory management, check your inventory reporting and request for a physical stock take to reconcile inventory and replenish as needed. Also communicate with your procurement specialist on production schedules and timelines for production and delivery. Ensure that there are no hiccups in production and everything is working out as scheduled.
If you have not checked inventory levels and forecasted for the holidays already, you may be too late. But do check with your 3PL and procurement specialist if they can help make it easier for you.
Related: Inventory Management Professionals
2. Communicate with Fulfillment Partners and Procurement Specialists Now
After forecasting your inventory you should have a good idea of what your holiday procurement situation is. Now start communicating with your suppliers, vendors and order fulfillment partner. Talking to these partners will help you audit everyone’s plans and also identify any weak points in your procurement process, supply chain or fulfillment process.
If you know the potential problems that could occur, you can easily create multiple backup plans and jump into action when needed.
Related: Are you Failing at eCommerce Order Fulfillment?
3. Plan for Shipping Disruptions Caused by Weather
In the logistics industry, one common element is unexpected weather. But it really is expected every holiday season that there will be bad weather that will disrupt shipping and deliveries. Over the last few years, shippers have come to expect delays caused by bad weather and they try their best to overcome the problems, but there is only so much you can do when roads are not passable to vehicles.
So, one good plan is to continuously communicate weather related delays to your customers. Be ready to hand out some discount coupons or freebies to soften the blow to customers that have excessive delays for their orders. Every small bit helps.
Related: 3 Quick Ways to Save Money on Shipping.
The bottom line is preparation. If you are prepared with sufficient inventory, your customers will be happy. if you are prepared to deliver their orders on time, your customers will be happier. To mitigate the effects of delays or out of stock products, constant communication with your customers and partners will help keep things in a good balance.
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