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Preparing Your Warehouse For The Holiday Season

image Brian Pigott image November 18, 2014

If you haven’t look at your calendar in a while, then you may be surprised to hear that it is, in fact, November.

That’s right, we’re officially in the home stretch leading up to the holiday shopping season. There may even be a few early bird shoppers who are already checking names off of their lists.

So if you still haven’t begun preparing your warehouse for this annual rush, you’re really pushing it. Fact is, you should have started yesterday.

Learn from the past

If this isn’t your first go-round on the holiday shopping carousel, then you have an incredibly valuable resource at  your disposal.

It’s called “last year’s data.”

If you haven’t already, start compiling all of your numbers from the 2013 holiday season, and any others before that. It’s also a good idea to sit down with your warehouse managers and get their take, as they may have some valuable insight not found in your data.

Let’s face it: unless your last holiday season went so smoothly that you just sat in your office with your feet up drinking eggnog and watching everything run like a well-oiled machine, there are areas where you can improve.

Areas such as:

Make sure you have the manpower

With increased orders comes an increased workload, and that means you’re going to need someone to pick up the slack. That could mean a couple different things.

Depending on the size of your team, you may need to bring in some seasonal employees.

Obviously, the biggest challenge there is ensuring that they’re trained quickly and effectively. If they’re not, they’ll end up doing more harm than good.

Also, remember that training MUST include safety training. Otherwise these seasonal employees could be putting everyone on your team at risk of injury.

On the other hand, if you feel that you already have enough people to get everything done, it may be easier and more cost-effective to just offer some overtime to your regular employees.

More likely than not, they’ll jump at the chance to make some extra cash. After all, they have their own shopping to do.

Just make sure to divide the time as evenly as possible. Overworking your employees can lead to lower morale, and the resulting fatigue can lead to mistakes, not to mention major safety issues.

Bulk up your inventory

This is where your previous data becomes absolutely critical.

What items did you find yourself running out of last year? Is it possible to keep more of them on-hand this year?

On the other hand, what items did you have an excess of last year? If you can avoid it this year, you can save some shelf space for the items that you really need.

Also, are you running any promotions for the holiday season? Your customers will be very upset if you offer a deal on something and then run out of it before December.

Keep some extra units on-hand, and have a plan in place if you do happen to run out. Perhaps there’s something you can offer as a substitute.

Be sure to plan all this as far in advance as possible. Chances are, your distributors are also dealing with higher demand and higher volume, so it’s in your best interest to get your orders in early.

And don’t forget, increased inventory means increased storage and shipping needs. If possible, look to set up some extra shelf space, and consider picking up some extra pallets.

Try and have some fun

Look, there are no two ways about it. There’s a lot of work to be done in a warehouse during the holiday shopping season.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t try and liven things up a little bit.

It’s the holidays! Put on some music! Set up some snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic, of course) in the break room! Decorate a little bit!

As long as everyone stays safe and works hard, there’s nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam.

Don’t forget, your team works hard all year, so show them that you appreciate it.

Photo by Kao Akana / CC 2.0

About Brian Pigott

Brian Pigott is an engineer and customer-centric entrepreneur. Brian is the Managing Director of One Way Solutions.

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