To those of you who aren’t initiates in the world of the supply chain, you’re probably thinking: Christmas is (at the time of writing) 109 days away, why panic?
But professionals in the logistics arena know all too well that this time of year is when things begin to get a little bit frenzied in the run-up to the hustle and bustle of the festive period.
Proper planning is vital when it comes to managing this shift in demand. Without it, handling such a task would cause complete disarray; leading to mistakes which could ultimately cost thousands of pounds.
Understanding, planning and implementing your strategy for the supply chain well in advance is crucial to ensuring your company successfully services its customers throughout the entire period.
In our latest blog, we've created some critical steps you must take into consideration while planning your end-of-year logistics strategy.
Keep Everything Customer Focused
Your customers are your most important asset; no matter where you are in the chain; no matter who your customers are, you must ensure the quality of your service adheres to your usual high standards.
Disappointing customers around this time of year means there’s a good chance they won’t be your customer in twelve months’ time.
Plan Your Staffing Capacity
Understanding how many orders your teams can process is crucial here. Temporary staff are incredibly handy around this time of year, but if you can’t get to grips with the stats from permanent team members, there's no way you can know how many temps you'll need or which areas you're overstretching.
Take Care of The Team
The health and safety of your team should be at the top of your priorities list whether it be spring, summer or autumn, but during this busy winter period, it's doubly important.
Accidents caused by using incorrect or faulty equipment are one of the most common reasons for injury at work and 90% of manual handling injuries meant employees had to take seven or more days off during 2012-13.
During the busy periods, you'll be reliant on your workforce and you can ill-afford avoidable absences due to inadequate or ineffectual equipment.
Choosing high quality equipment means that you are ensuring your whole supply line is much more efficient and you can rest safe in the knowledge that your employees are using equipment that is safe and easy to use, which reduces the chances of sickness and injury.
Work With Third Parties
Carefully plan and forecast your expected uptick in activity and ensure you work with your partners, such as your couriers and delivery carriers. They’ll be just as busy as you are at this point in the year, so it’s best to keep them informed to avoid any nasty surprises that could impact both sides.
As the weather changes be aware of the impacts of adverse road conditions, and how they could impact your chain.
Have Backup Options
In logistics you’re often at the mercy of influences you’re unable to control, and the same truth applies to your partners, so it’s advisable to ensure you’re covered with back up options where necessary.
Choosing your last date for guaranteed delivery must be agreed upon early in the planning phase. Selecting a date must strike a balance between trading for as long as possible and ensuring you are able to deliver. The last thing you want is to do is make promises you can’t keep.
This is absolutely the correct time to maximise stock intake to ensure the right products are going to the right people at the right time. However, without analysing forecasts, then you’re just sticking your finger in the air to see which way the wind blows (in other words: complete guesswork).
If you're too trigger happy, you could end up with excess stock heading into January. Clearing this out could bite a big chunk from your Christmas time profits.
On the other side of the coin, it’s helpful to be aware that bulk orders could come in and wipe out your entire stock of a particular product. It’s a nice problem to have, but you must be in constant communication with your partners to ensure you can replenish your stock quickly and efficiently.
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
It’s very easy to focus on the money making side of the festive period, and this is a fair assessment since you absolutely should be trying to maximise sales during this time. But, it's also very easy to get bogged down with this side of things only to let the ball drop in other areas, which is when you can find yourself in a situation where you're quite literally funnelling the money you’re making straight out the window.
Continual analysis of the details gives you the opportunity to pinpoint areas which may not be as sound as you want them to be, thus allowing you to plug the gaps which could be costing you money while you’re making it.
It’s really important to understand the entire lifecycle of your chain and the value each link brings. It costs an awful lot of money for logistics companies to win new customers, but it’s vital to remember that you need to be put the same graft into keeping them.
The Christmas period is the most important 6-8 weeks in the calendar for a large portion of businesses – including your own. By planning each detail and keeping up consistent communication you can use this period as an exceptional period of growth which can act as springboard for future activities.
At SHS Handling, we provide expert equipment to aid the safe handling and transportation of goods all along the supply chain. If you’re looking for more advice on any of our product ranges, why not give us a call on 01280 825740 or drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our highly trained experts will be happy to offer advice and guidance.