Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, this year UK shoppers spent around £7 billion. This phenomenal figure is great news for retailers but has also put a lot of pressure on warehouse infrastructure with respect to getting those orders out on time and error-free. Given that Christmas is now just around the corner and the promotions, deals – and spending – are likely to continue, albeit not at quite the same pace, how can you ensure that your warehouse stays on top of demand?
Define core processes – but be flexible
It’s essential to have all the core processes in your warehouse well defined and to ensure that these are unambiguously set out. However, when it comes to coping with spikes in demand at this seasonal time of year a little flexibility is also required. If you want to ensure that your business can stay on top of increased demand then this combination of clarity and flexibility is going to be essential.
Invest in technology for your business
Problems with orders during seasonal spikes can arise because the workforce can’t physically pack fast enough or the warehouse doesn’t have enough room for sufficient product to meet demand. Mistakes can arise through manual-only processes that often require attention to detail that may be missing at the end of a long shift. Technology offers a number of simple solutions to these issues, from switching to automated retrieval systems that allow vertical space to be used for more product storage, to robotic picking systems that guarantee efficiency and accuracy.
Avoid very short spikes
When you’re dealing with shifts in demand it’s easier for everyone concerned to cope if that shift lasts longer than a day or so. Many businesses, for example, choose to run a Black Friday sale over a few days or even a week so that internal operations have enough time to keep up and adjust. Resources can be better balanced this way and shoppers also have more opportunity to take advantage of bargains – and to return to shop again once they have received their first delivery. It can also be useful to consider ways to spread the operational pressure, such as offering different types of delivery that don’t all require the same staff and systems (e.g. home delivery vs. click and collect).
There’s no doubt that mobile technology offers a range of efficiency improvements, which can be particularly essential at this time of year. Mobile technology can be used to enable more efficient picking, to open the channels of communication and collaboration between warehouse teams and to increase speed of service and customer satisfaction. It can also make for happier employees who are able to do their jobs more efficiently as a result of the technology in their hands.
If you want to stay on top of orders this Christmas and retain high standards of quality and service then these are just some of the steps you can take. To discuss your warehousing needs in advance of the intense Christmas shopping period, contact one of our team.