While shoppers are making their lists and checking it twice this holiday season, retailers have been busy preparing for the surge that occurs during this gift-giving time. What does it take to ensure shelves are stocked with the most popular gifts of the season? A collaborative 3PL with intimate knowledge of your supply chain and the technology to keep up with the consumer demand can keep the bells ringing with holiday cheer all year long.
Surging with Flexibility
A popular online retailer can see up to 10,000 packages per day leave a distribution facility during the holiday rush. The surge of volume for retailers from Halloween to New Year’s is prepared for year-round with product traveling from manufacturers as early as July1. Anticipating these needs with a supply chain solutions provider can deliver successful results and keep shelves stocked and customers happy. A retail industry report shows 81% of consumers will shop with a competitor if a product is backordered or out-of-stock2.
Storing merchandise and distribution are key parts of the holiday supply chain. Utilizing opportunities such as gain sharing allows a retailer to ensure warehousing space during peak seasons and save costs other times of the year by sharing unused space. A flexible 3PL with capabilities to accommodate strategic supply chain goals can manage diverse retailer needs.
Transporting products from manufacturers to distribution centers is paramount for the six months leading up to the holiday season. Having a supply chain provider with end-to-end solutions allows flexibility to transport product via truck, air, sea, or intermodal, giving options for the most cost effective and time appropriate transportation method.
Visibility to Your Inventory
Knowing where product is, when it will arrive, and where it will be stored are major components to the supply chain process. Technology and business intelligence tools can allow retailers to track products and make quick decisions regarding transportation and storage.
A warehouse management system (WMS) can ensure shippers have the capacity to bring in more merchandise as popular products move quickly. The visibility allows retailers to better make decisions on the amount of space needed and the best place to store product. A transportation management system (TMS) can provide visibility and the best mechanisms and routes for products to arrive. Staying organized and timing everything perfectly makes for a seamless supply chain3.
Tis’ the Season for Returns
The shoes didn’t fit, the sweater wasn’t in Grandma’s favorite color, and the toy broke. Reverse logistics becomes a key part of the holiday season and maintaining satisfied customers. Omni-channel customers with a “buy anywhere, return anywhere” philosophy can result in products going further away from the supply chain. Partner with a 3PL to make returns simple by providing return labels or coupons to ensure products are being returned in a smooth and cost efficient way. Even more important than getting the product back quickly, is tracking the root cause of the return and utilizing that data to resolve product challenges or issues4.
The holiday season provides retailers an optimum time to increase sales and earn customer loyalty by keeping product on the shelf and providing exemplary customer service. Utilizing a supply chain partner with end-to-end uniquely engineered solutions with access to cutting-edge technology can provide a flawless season filled with holiday cheer.