Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday shopping season will be upon us before we know it, alongside the increased consumer demands still projected for the end of the year.
According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales represent about 20% of annual retail sales each year, and despite the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic on brick-and-mortar retail sales, eCommerce purchases are expected have record year-over-year growth of at least 40% this November and December combined.
During this period, warehouses will need to keep up with the changing expectations of cautious consumers and the increased demand for rapid delivery.
Let’s discuss five best practices to ensure your warehouse’s efficiency, productivity and safety during a demanding holiday season.
Prepare Your Employees
With the inundation of additional holiday hours, maintaining a trained, productive team is going to be a critical element to your success.
Once you’ve acquired a large enough team, the next step is to employ efficient scheduling processes to keep your warehouse sufficiently staffed. This will minimize costly holiday overtime and avoid employee burnout.
As you’re assessing your staffing needs, here are some items to consider:
- Are you open to hiring seasonal workers?
- Does your staffing strategy have a contingency plan if orders are drastically greater or fewer than planned?
- Does your company’s time-off policy during peak seasons ensure there are enough employees present to handle the daily workload?
- Have you clearly communicated your floor plan, shipping and receiving strategies to employees, providing specifics on how to handle the anticipated holiday chaos?
- Are you providing resources to help employees manage additional stress at work?
By communicating the details of your holiday plans, you can be sure everyone’s on the same page as the orders start rolling in.
Review Inventory Management
The holiday shopping season means you’re likely housing additional inventory. Holiday-heavy businesses consistently see dramatic inventory increases during the winter months. Now, with the restraints of COVID-19, this season’s demands are unprecedented.
Because of this pressure from consumers, retailers must focus on their ability to project upcoming inventory levels and stay on top of their stock to maximize profits.
There are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- What was the inventory volume last year, and what additional storage did you need to accommodate it?
- Have similar accommodations been made this year?
- When will inventory start arriving? And when are you expecting your warehouse expect peak inventory levels?
- How quickly do you expect the inventory to turn over? How much space will be freed up and when/where?
- Are your primary locations filled to maximum capacity? How are you evaluating which products are to occupy that space? Do these criteria need to be adjusted based on incoming inventory?
Evaluate Space Requirements and Current Layout
An increase in inventory and shipping traffic means that warehouse organization will become even more crucial.
Address potential pitfalls by conducting a walkthrough to assess your facility’s configuration, including the shipping and receiving zones and stock areas. This walkthrough can help you update your current floorplans and storage to handle additional stock and team members.
Some ways to optimize your warehouse space might include:
- Creating clear pathways that facilitate easy flow and movement between shelving, containers and workstations.
- Minimizing the distance that employees need to travel to pick and pack items.
- Designing high-velocity pick zones, placing high-demand products in designated areas to avoid bottlenecks.
- Adding signage to communicate your floor plan strategy to employees.
Improving organization, flow, storage capacity and space utilization can help you accommodate your increased inventory and activity and keep operating at optimum performance.
Get Ahead of Warehouse Maintenance
Routine preventative warehouse maintenance is a must, but it’s more important than ever during a holiday influx.
This fall, take time to combat potential issues preemptively. For example, survey your handling or moving equipment for any parts that need replacing to avoid unexpected failures. Remember, making the repairs now helps to prevent disaster later.
Leverage Quality Tools and Tech
Material handling and industrial warehouse tools and technologies are designed to make facility operations more efficient and productive, which you need during peak holiday season.
If you’re concerned about your holiday season demands, it may be time to consider material handling tools, like industrial manipulators.
An industrial manipulator is a machine with a rigid steel manipulator arm capable of complex pneumatic tilts and rotations. This lets your employees move the manipulator with ease and precision to lift, lower and otherwise transport a product.
Industrial manipulators can help you prep for a variety of holiday shipping situations, such as:
- Your increased product volume must be moved quickly to keep up with customer demand.
- A product in your inventory may be too heavy for a single person to move safely.
- Your floor strategy requires products to be moved to a location that is not easily or quickly accessible.
With more inventory comes a greater need to improve workstation efficiency, increase productivity and establish a safe working environment. Choosing the right warehouse handling equipment ensures your holiday warehouse preparations help you meet, and indeed exceed, customer expectations.
Keep Ahead of the Holiday Rush
This year, it’s more important than ever to prepare for holiday stock volumes and increased staff. This is where Dalmec can help. Our solutions deliver the efficiency you need to prepare your warehouse for a hectic holiday season.
Contact us today to discuss the best solutions for you.