Nov 4, 2016

winter supply chainBefore you know it, winter will be here. Along with the harsh weather that is sure to blanket most of the country, retail sales will also put a heavy strain on the supply chains of businesses.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales this year will increase a solid 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion. This is far higher than the 10-year average increase of 2.5 percent and will even beat out the average increase of 3.4 percent since the recovery began in 2009.

Between the winter weather and the retail holiday season, supply chain leaders are already in the process of preparing their warehouses, carriers and overall strategy. Here’s what you can do to get ready.

Analyze Stock Supply and Demand
Now is the time to gather and analyze every bit of supply chain data that you have from the current and previous years, which can be leveraged to identify:

  • Where your customers are located
  • What items your customers are buying most
  • How you can cut down on waste, theft and other liabilities
  • How you can decrease order fulfillment times

Preparing warehouses for seasonal peaks
When sales spike and the number of shipments greatly increase, warehouses will have to be prepared to handle the increases in traffic. Between bulk shipments to brick and mortar stores and single shipments to e-commerce customers, shippers must prepare their warehouse teams to coordinate their operations in order to prevent any disturbances in customer service.

Now is the time to review the layout of your warehouses. Are seasonal and popular items located in the most easy to access locations (i.e. at the ground level and close to loading bays)? Warehouse teams can save a lot of time during the holiday season by reviewing and optimizing their loading and unloading procedures to help combat the heavy increase in shipments.

Preparing carriers
Truck drivers carry a heavy burden during the winter months. Between peak season and the harsh weather they encounter while on the road, they face a dangerous and daunting task. Combine this with the recent truck driver shortages and supply chain teams may even have problems finding carriers to haul their freight.

If you manage a team of carriers, make sure that they are well aware of the best practices while driving long distances in inclement weather. It also helps to optimize LTL practices and route-planning initiatives to ensure that you are making the most out of every truck that leaves your warehouse.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
While many businesses will seek new and seasonal hires to get through the holiday season, it can result in hiring employees and getting carriers who are underqualified, or far more expensive than your company can afford.

The other option: work with a third party logistics providers who can handle the heavy increases in carrier and warehousing needs. At King Solutions, we employ and partner with professionals all across the supply chain. We are well equipped to handle the pressure that winter puts on any supply chain. Contact us today to find out how we can help your supply chain survive the winter months.