The busiest time of year for shipping and shopping is closing in. The holiday season offers unique challenges to supply chain managers and logistics due to the increased demand for more packages to be delivered to more places more quickly. While much of your work to prepare for this has already been in place, there are still some last-minute tweaks that can improve your supply chain to meet the demands of holiday shippers and distributors.
Improve Warehouse Space
Storage is one of the biggest concerns in managing an effective supply chain. Whether you need to store perishable items in a refrigerated space or stacks of Mattel’s new Monster High Dolls, keeping warehouses up-to-date and used is key to managing expenses. If demand has dropped and you’ve offloaded extra stock, try to hedge your contracts with empty warehouses to cut costs heading into an expensive season. Be sure that all regulations and EDI are met in your warehouses to keep workers safe and customers in the loop.
Check Existing Contracts
Prices for shipping and tracking your goods are expected to rise again this year. Check your existing contracts with partners to see whether you are locked into a price increase or if a discount can be negotiated – this sort of situation is why maintaining a good relationship with business partners is key! If a price increase is unavoidable, look around at other providers to see if costs can be saved elsewhere.
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Tweak Promotion Processes
Promoting your supply of popular gifts is next to impossible if your information is outdated. Keep market segmentation reports up-to-date and tailor promotions to the most profitable and active segments. View your promotions as an extended process to drive up business – a simple mark-down is not enough. You must target customers with a reason to purchase your product. Evaluate your past promotions to find weak points and include marketing, pricing and other teams to make the process as effective as possible.
Update Social Networking Plan
Few companies use social networks for their real strengths, preferring to use them as an arm of their website instead of an actual social area. Whether you deal with the general public or work in a B2B format, update your company’s social networking plan to open a forum with your customers. Drive a discussion and use feedback to identify your weaknesses and implement improvements at all levels of your supply chain. Watch chatter for products that may be in higher demand than you originally expected. Including social-based promotions can also be a great way to build a lucrative relationship with customers for the future.
Analyze and Learn
In the aftermath of the holiday season, don’t relax yet. Now is the perfect time to check your metrics and reports to see how effective your supply chain was this season. Did transportation costs cripple your bottom line? Were there too many complaints from customers regarding shipping information? Did your LeapPad 2 Explorer promotion drive up its demand? Take cues for next season’s approach from your successes and develop a plan to address your weaknesses.
Preparing your supply chain for the holiday buying season is a year-long process. However, minor tweaks as the busiest time of year approaches can save countless dollars and improve your effectiveness. Always manage your risks and compare costs to the outcome when considering changes to your management plan.