Planning for peak season and high volumes is imperative for making it through the holiday season and you can never start too early. If you haven’t already started your planning, below are some things to consider.
Preparing your systems for peak season should be towards the top of your peak planning list. All of your supply chain systems including your WMS, OMS, E-Commerce website, and others should be able to handle your anticipated volume. The worst thing that can happen during peak season, is one of these systems not being able to handle the high volume resulting in a bottleneck.
Volume testing is used to make sure the system can perform during peak season. The environment that is used for volume testing should mimic the real production environment so that the test serves as valid. This step is very important because even a seemingly small change can affect the performance. Additionally, volume over peak levels should be tested so there is a buffer in how much the system can handle.
Staffing during peak season can be difficult both inside and outside the 4 walls of the warehouse. Your supply chain and IT teams need to be prepared to handle any issues that may come along during the peak season. Something as simple as a formal escalation protocol can be what saves your peak season during an unexpected hitch. Each team member should have a clear definition of their responsibilities during peak season and should know when to escalate any issues that may impact the ability to execute. It will be helpful if your systems have some sort of reporting dashboard for the team to quickly see the health of the system during peak season.
Preparing for a temporary workforce inside the warehouse has its own challenges. Activities like updating old SOP’s and cross-training can be used to lessen the risk involved with hiring temporary workers for peak volumes. If you are interested in learning more about temporary workforce during peak season, check out our article on Labor Planning from last year’s peak season.
As much as you can plan and test for peak season, sometimes the unexpected happens and things go wrong. Whether a natural disaster occurs or a system goes down, there should always be a “Plan B”. Contingency planning is just as important as peak planning because it can make or break the peak season. Everyone on the supply chain team should know exactly what to do in case of emergency.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. We have all heard this quote before, but it rings true when it comes to contingency planning. If you don’t plan for the unexpected, you risk not delivering in the most important time of the year.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Not every peak season goes smoothly without any issues. Some of the largest companies in the world still struggle with their peak season. On Amazon’s busiest day of the year, Prime Day, their website was unresponsive for the first few hours of the day. Amazon was able to recover and have a successful Prime Day, but this was a learning experience for them. After peak season, the supply chain IT and Ops teams should debrief and figure out how to be more successful in next year’s peak season.
Planning for peak season can never start too early. Take action on these topics to ensure your peak season goes smoothly. If you do have any questions or need help in preparing for your peak volumes, feel free to reach out to the experts at Bricz to get started.
Contributors: Kevin Quigley