packages on conveyor belt

How to Prepare Your Warehouse for Peak Season

The holiday rush is upon us, and many retailers are already preparing for the busiest shopping days of the year, also known as Peak Season for sales and shipping. Since this is a make-or-break time for many businesses, shipping disruptions can lead to lost sales and unhappy customers for your clients. No one wants that!

The solution is to maintain good relationships with your clients by getting their orders out on schedule. This will help ensure continued business throughout the rest of the year. Here are some tips on how to prepare your warehouse or 3PL for peak season so you can avoid complications and come out on top.

Definition of Peak Season

small boxes on laptopPeak season refers to the period when demand for products rises sharply due to seasonal events such as holidays and special occasions. This means that there will be more people buying items than usual, so retailers need to make sure they have enough stock available to meet the increased demand. This is where your warehouse or 3PL comes into play. You can help your clients meet their seasonal sales goals, ultimately reaching your storage, shipping, and profit targets.

2022 Warehouse Operations Expectations

Since the beginning of the pandemic, supply chain issues have become a continual part of doing business. Addressing and preparing your warehouse for peak season “as usual” is no longer applicable. Too many variables in the market now exist that will make it harder to predict your peak season planning forecast. Some relevant issues to note include:

  • Additional supply chain problems (backed-up ports, container backlogs, protests, strikes, rising fees, etc.)
  • Changes in customer buying patterns
  • Increased holiday inventory
  • Labor shortages
  • Unpredictable fuel prices
  • Low carrier capacity leading to e-commerce shipping surcharges
  • Inflation and/or a potential recession
  • Possible Covid resurgence

Start Preparing a Plan and a Budget

bar graph - how is your company preparing its operations for peak season?Customer support is key to a successful season. Lost shipments, damaged items, shipping delays, and returns are bound to happen no matter how well your warehouse or 3PL distributes holiday orders during this busy time. Be sure to focus on customer satisfaction, quality control, and warehouse efficiency.

Carrier shipping times will fluctuate. According to an article by DC Velocity, global air freight demand dropped 9% in July as compared to July 2021. However, your warehouse manager should be prepared to ship items earlier than you would any other time of year. Learn each carrier’s strengths and weaknesses so you are not sidelined with an unanticipated problem. Continual carrier communication is key to success in getting your clients’ products into consumers’ hands in time. In addition, air freight rates also dropped in July, yet remain still historically high – up 11% over last year – so it is important to budget accordingly.

Stock up on packaging materials. Packaging supplies are essential for any business, especially during peak season. Consider the current supply chain climate when purchasing what you need to meet demand. In a recent Supply Chain Dive article, John Blake, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, noted that packaging supply is expected to remain tight through the 2022 holiday season. “Currently we’re seeing six months’ [lead time] where it used to be four to six weeks,” he said. “Things like labels have 12 to 16-week lead times, where it used to be four to six.” With supplier expectations about production schedules changing, companies need to talk with their suppliers now and figure out where they will be in the next four to six months.

Don’t ignore your workforce.  In today’s competitive environment, 3PLs and warehouses need to do everything they can in order to keep up with their competitors. One way is by offering attractive benefits and programs that will attract new warehouse workers, retain existing employees, and keep the operation running smoothly. That’s because without an active workforce you could soon find yourself facing major disruption.

Peak season also means that those working in your distribution centers will more than likely be working extended hours. Make sure that your company or 3PL is adequately staffed, even if you need to bring in temporary employees to maintain warehouse efficiency. Keep your workers’ morale up with pizza and donut deliveries for those late nights or early mornings.

All of these considerations should be planned strategically and budgeted to streamline processes before holiday shopping begins.

Strategies for Predicting Holiday Season Warehouse Volumes

There are several ways to predict peak season distribution center volumes. One method is to use historical data to determine how much inventory to have on hand which translates into warehouse space used. Another option is to forecast future demand based on past trends. A third option is to estimate current demand based on previous seasons’ sales.

Obviously, planning ahead is the best way to have a successful peak season. You can do this with the following forecasting strategies for your fulfillment services.

1. Inventory Data

Inventory managementicon of graphs on paper and forecasting are all about data. Before you can figure out what you need to order and when you need to order it, you need to understand your historical numbers. While it is not a perfect solution given changing conditions, this is a good starting point for peak season forecasting. Your warehouse management system (WMS) software should be able to provide you with historical data over several years, as well as assist in forecasting for the peak season and planning floor space for products.

2. Always Take Notes

notepad iconThe best teacher is past experience. It is not enough to just take notes on what happened during peak seasons or periods of high inventory. Your team will only be able to make accurate predictions for future markets if they know how things work after the fact. Plus, memories fade with time. Take notes throughout the year about all aspects related to the market activity – shipping percentages and punctuality, order levels, and labor hours – in order to refer back to them when planning for the next holiday rush.

3. View Real-Time Inventory

clock iconIt can be tough to know what you need for your operation if the data isn’t accurate and timely enough. With real-time inventory tracking from Logimax WMS, you can monitor product stocks against estimates so if problems arise, they get resolved faster. Efficient WMS software from Logimax can also prevent future issues from happening altogether by providing an accurate picture of every product on hand in your warehouse or 3PL at any given time.

4. Get Your Team Involved

team iconThe more people involved in your inventory forecasting process, the better. Involving finance and operations will give you a better understanding of what’s happening with physical stock levels at any given time; while inviting external stakeholders can help identify potential problems before they arise by allowing input for future decisions that may affect them (ie. buying/selling).

5. The Right Tools Equal Success

WMSUsing the right tools to replenish inventory can be challenging during peak season. Consider technology solutions for your warehouse or 3PL like mobile carts, RFID tags, and warehouse management system software that will help you compare your results with your forecast in real-time.

Warehouse management is a challenging task during the peak season. However, with these added picking strategies you can create more efficient warehouse operations. A more efficient warehouse will help save your company time and money on inventory management and ensure data accuracy for future forecasts.

How Your Warehouse Management System Software Can Help

warehouse management system (WMS) helps you easily access inventory management, track shipments, and keep an eye on your business. It also allows you to automate processes so you can focus more on growing your business instead of managing every aspect of it.

When you’re looking for a way to make your business more efficient, accurate, and effective at accelerating inventory turnover time then look no further than automating tasks with Logimax WMS software. The process will be streamlined thanks in part to integrations that can occur via API or online shopping cart interfaces. This allows the system not just to track what’s going on, but also to send updates as they happen. This means there are never any lost opportunities again.

Logimax WMS software reporting features can provide valuable information to help your customers plan their inventory levels. This is especially crucial this peak season as companies shift from JIT (Just-In-Time) strategies towards those that are focused on maintaining a higher level of availability, like JIC (Just-In-Case) stocking and material handling.

The best way for warehouses and 3PLs to plan ahead for peak season is by maximizing the benefits from their client relationships. To do this, you should communicate early and often with your customers. Talk regularly about schedules or upcoming promotions, as well as standards such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Communication and real-time reporting during these busy times will help everyone be best prepared for a successful end of the year. For details on how Logimax WMS can help your company during peak season, contact us today!


Risky Business vs. Risk Management: JIT vs. JIC in the Warehouse

Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory control is well known in the warehouse management industry. Most recently, JIT has become quite a challenge for many industries due to supply chain uncertainty. This has resulted in manufacturing and warehouse distribution paralysis worldwide. Was your company prepared for the crisis? If not, it’s time to consider a Just-in-Case (JIC) approach.

JIT was an effective inventory control method until 2020. Then COVID-19 shook the world, straining the economy and closing down businesses everywhere. Beyond the travel and hospitality industries, schools and hospitals, the pandemic affected manufacturers, logistics, and distributors. The resulting shut-downs left customers with constant low order fill rates and no relief in sight, continuing to this day.

First incorporated by Japanese manufacturing companies in the 1970s, the JIT management strategy aligns raw-material orders from suppliers directly with production schedules. The strategy was then adopted in the U.S. to improve manufacturing, operations, and inventory control. Later, the technique became prevalent in warehouses and distribution centers to improve efficiency and inventory overhead.

Recent supply chain delays have given rise to raw materials and inventory not arriving as scheduled, impacting production capabilities and halting the flow of goods to and from warehouses. While companies are battling to meet order-fill, consider implementing Just-In-Case (JIC) for your 3rd party logistics warehouse (3PL).

What is Just-in-Case?

JIC approaches forecasting from another angle, encompassing careful planning and some risk-taking. According to a December 2021 article by Inbound Logistics, “Businesses are transitioning from Just-in-Time to what has become known as a ‘Just-in-Case’ strategy. Just-in-Case refers to the practice of holding larger amounts of ‘safety’ stock, enabling a company to avoid stockouts.”

While some 3PL warehouses may be wary of taking risks, JIC incorporates risk management. Businesses must rely on their warehouse management system (WMS) software for complete and accurate reporting to provide accurate information to determine which products are, and will remain, in high demand, to prevent excessive shipping delays for the foreseeable future. It’s pretty simple – make the investment now so you can assure better order-fill for your customers.

The idea of JIC goes against lean inventory control in every way since it affects up-front investment, risk management, warehouse space, and inventory overload. At first look, JIC doesn’t seem like an efficient business practice. But does it hurt? If you can meet customer demands by having inventory on hand to meet order fill, it’s a win-win for everyone in the chain. In the end, it provides a competitive advantage to your customers in the marketplace.

If you need help addressing supply chain issues with your WMS software or implementing Just-In-Case inventory control in your warehouse, contact us to find out how Logimax can help!

man standing in warehouse

Why Your WMS Software is Key to Unlocking Current Supply Chain Problems

You’ve read it in the headlines. It affects everyday life whether you are the consumer or a product supplier. Severe supply chain backlogs are crippling product sales everywhere and it’s not only costing companies significantly but straining customer relationships. Issues can include late shipments, persistent out-of-stocks, and disgruntled end-users, to name a few.

With no supply chain relief in the near future, you must have a strong grasp of your current warehouse management system (WMS) software and its capabilities, or lack thereof. Does your current WMS software live up to your expectations? If not, a re-evaluation may be in order.

To be the most efficient, and therefore most profitable, during and after this dreadful supply chain crisis, the right WMS software can help you succeed.

Top Benefits of Exceptional Warehouse Management (WMS) Software

  1. Better Inventory Visibility – If your current WMS software is constantly experiencing problems or not providing you real-time updates, it can lead to considerable operational problems. With a more powerful WMS software system from Logimax, you can view up-to-date inventory data to see what’s actually in stock and ready to go during all points of the distribution process. From receiving to stocking to storing, having a clear picture of exactly what products are on hand means you can maintain the appropriate amount of inventory, process orders, and ship on time without issue. A great WMS software also provides valuable forecast information to help you get a jump on reordering stock in enough time to avoid supply chain problems.
  2. Lower Operating Costs – If your current WMS software is not providing data in one or more areas, it can drastically affect your overall warehouse operations. A great deal of time can be wasted having employees searching the aisles to locate products because your software doesn’t allow for proper inventory tracking. The right software from Logimax can lower your operating costs by helping you plan your warehouse space and labor as efficiently as possible. A superior provider can aid you in determining the proper inventory location, shelving set-up, and pallet arrangement, plus the equipment needed for the best functionality.
  3. Optimal Security – It is critically important that your WMS software provides the highest security to thwart threats to your operations. Security breaches will cause even more problems on top of the current supply chain crisis. Are your warehouse operations truly protected through your current software? A superior system allows you the ability to create audit trails so transactions are tracked to specific employees, therefore reducing the risk of theft and improving accountability. Software with user-access controls means you decide which team member has access to specific levels of information across your organization.
  4. Just-in-Time (JIT) and Just-in-Case (JIC) Inventory – Just-in-time (JIT) inventory ensures you aren’t holding large amounts of inventory for long periods of time, while Just-in-Case (JIC) inventory imagines the worst-case scenario for your most critical items (think semiconductors or, two years ago, masks and hand sanitizers) so you don’t run out. It’s a balance that requires forecasting and continually adjusting that forecast as things change. Your WMS software should enable you to set and update reorder levels and to exchange that information in real-time with your suppliers and customers. Whether you distribute sourced products from overseas or are kitting for local manufacturers, if they can’t keep you stocked and you don’t have products to store and distribute, it will hurt your bottom line.
  5. Improved Billing Management – Billing tools or modules built right into WMS software or that can seamlessly integrate with third-party apps make the process of managing A/R and A/P a snap. By adding a multi-functional software package from Logimax you can manage WMS billing without the hassles and added resources that may be necessary with less powerful software.
  6. Enhanced Supplier and Customer Relationships – Good relationships are more important now than ever given today’s uncertain supply chain atmosphere. With advanced WMS software, you can shorten wait times at the dock doors by scheduling inbound deliveries and outbound shipments, all resulting in faster turnaround times for customers. Couple this with radio frequency tools to drastically improve order accuracy and fulfillment. The result? Your increased reputation for responsiveness will ensure your customers are more than satisfied with your performance.

See how Logimax software can put your company on the right track today.