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November is almost at an end. As December nears, the holiday peak looms for many distribution centers. The season will be the busiest for us in logistics and transportation thanks to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, and Boxing Day.

Customers will be expecting to receive their purchases and gifts with little hassle. This means that for many organizations, the sole focus of the winter peak will be to customer satisfaction. Thanks to the increasing number of people shopping online, the winter peak is especially volatile for orders.

Proper planning for the winter holiday peak should have started months ago. Some businesses go all-hands-on-deck as early as August, or October. While strategic planning is important for a smoother peak, it doesn’t guarantee it. There are several ways the plan can become derailed.

This week we’ve decided to focus on the five ways to help make sure your business stays on track.

1. Clarify Your Expectation to the Staffing Providers

As Deborah Ruriani of Inbound Logistics points out in her article, planning for the holiday peak should have involved your staffing providers. With the winter peak so close, it’s important that the expectations of your relationship are re-communicated. Turnover is likely to be high until the peak is over. Staffing providers need to ensure that new hires are of the same standards as those they are replacing.

2. Audit the Preparedness of Your Organization on All Levels

As the holiday season approaches, it might be tempting to hunker down and only focus on your work until it passes. Doing so puts your organization at risk. Fulfillment centers can only succeed if all its parts are all working smoothly and towards a common goal. Any weakness in the management, operations, support, HR or other departments can lead to a domino effect.

3. Regularly Check the Morale of Your Employees

It’s normal for stress levels to be higher during the holidays. A lot is expected of the staff and they’ll have tight deadlines in which to accomplish these tasks. Stress levels can’t get too high however. Too much stress over too long a period will cause mistakes. Too many mistakes will cause more stress, growing and extending the cycle.

4. Check and Update the 5S Lean or Other Quality Initiatives

The 5S Lean Methodology is a strategy on how companies organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. By this time of year, your company should have a detailed space utilization plan in place. But remember, this time of year is volatile so your plan may need tweaking. You’ll need to check which variables have changed since the plan was drafted and adjust accordingly. Flexibility is crucial in this area.

5. Continue to Audit your Building’s Processes for Best Practice Research

Peak is an important time for many organizations. This is why a record of what worked and what didn’t needs to be kept during and after every peak. Each peak brings with it the opportunity to do things a little bit better.

The winter peak is a stressful time for many of us in the logistics industry. Our customers expect us to deliver so they can have a happy holiday season. It’s because of our customers that we need to ensure that both the planning and execution of peak plans are done with the utmost dedication and care.

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

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Kurt Salmon, a global management consulting firm, recently put out a study of online orders from 62 different retailers. The study analyzed online orders that were shipped to consumers, as well as those picked up in-store to measure shipping speed, accuracy and cost.

The most interesting find in the study, is that on average, order-to-delivery time for the 62 major retailers was slower by 20% than last year’s average:

In fact, only 40% of buy online, pick up in store (BOPUS) transactions were error free this year, compared to 91% of delivered orders in the study and 98% of delivered orders during the rest of the year. This huge service gap—especially in such a customer-facing area—exposes retailers and can leave customers out in the cold

On the positive side, the amount of retailers surveyed from last year is now at 90%, up 15%. Retailers offering free shipping on anything in their catalogue rather than select items has also increased. This number has grown by 50%.

“Improved execution enabled 80% of retailers to complete orders within two weeks of Cyber Monday, up from 66% in 2014, with 9% fewer cancelled orders. Overall delivery time has increased 21% from 2014”, writes the study.

An article on CNBC.com also describes how although there is a gap, the deadline for deliveries has gained an additional day.

According to a study by customer analytics firm StellaService, Dec. 21 is the most common deadline put in place by retailers promising standard or free shipping by Dec. 25. That’s one additional day compared to last year, when the most common cutoff date was Dec. 20.

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Source: CNBC

It’ll be important for e-commerce companies to improve their order-to-delivery times not only to meet current customer demand, but also future customer demand. Looking at data from this past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it looks like Cyber Monday has already eclipsed the former as the shopping holiday.

According to this article from LogisticsManagement.com, the sales breakdown for the two holidays was as follows:

  • Sales expectation for Cyber Monday were expected at $3 billion, a first for the holiday
  • This is a 12% annual increase and a 50% increase from 2012, according to Adobe
  • According to an analysis by ShipMatrix, 91 percent of orders delivered by UPS’ ground service during Cyber Week were on time, compared to 97 percent during that time frame last year.
  • Black Friday sales dropped from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.4 billion in 2015, according to data from ShopperTrak
  • Online sales between Thanksgiving and Sunday were up 17 percent to $8.03 billion, according to Adobe

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!