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Tips To Prepare Your Supply Chain For The Holiday Season

With the most significant selling season only a couple of months away, it’s time to start mapping out your holiday sales strategy. The summertime is when you want to start, so you give yourself adequate time to prepare. However, a lot of consumers start to research their buying options as early as October. Businesses are already reporting massive sales records for their back-to-school events. The National Retail Federation “NRF” has since updated its sale forecast to be over $4.4 trillion as the economy continues to skyrocket in its recovery since the pandemic. It’s expected to be a blockbuster type of holiday season because of it. It can be very difficult for a lot of companies to handle such an increase in sales volume while continuing to have the supply chain in order, so you will need swift delivery. This is why you need to do some due diligence when prepping it.

1. Build Out a Forecast

One of the first things you need to do when trying to get your supply chain for the upcoming holiday season is to build out your forecast. It would be best if you got as detailed as possible when it comes to your sales forecast. This is the only way you know what SKUs to order more of and which ones you are good with. You can segment all of your projections to help you accurately forecast everything for the upcoming quarter and future quarters.

You will find that the biggest shipping period for any retailer is the weeks leading up to Black Friday to Christmas Eve. Because of this, you want to include this massive increase when you are forecasting your projections.

2. Connect Both Marketing and Logistics

Everything you do on the marketing front is going to play a massive role in determining how much more sales you get. Because of this, you need to sync these two up. First, you need to know how much marketing you are going to be doing and what kind of sales you anticipate getting from it. You want to get more insight into the promotions you will be running to understand how much supply you’ll need. This can help you stay supplied during your sales events. It can also help ensure you don’t annoy customers because you don’t have stock.

3. Communicate With Your Shipping Carrier

You are going to want to ensure you have good communication with your carriers. A lot of customers will expect shorter transit times when they are shopping throughout the holidays. Unfortunately, it’s also the most difficult to expect shorter transit times. Nonetheless, they want their shipments faster and it’s critical to do so when it comes to holiday shipments. Thus, communicating with your shipping carrier is essential. You want to communicate earlier to ensure you are aware of all of the limitations they have.

Know the carrier’s holiday cutoff date. This will help you avoid disappointing customers with not getting your shipments in time for Christmas. Once you know the cutoff date, you can effectively communicate it to your customers to ensure they have the information they need to make their purchasing decisions. This year, Christmas falls on a Saturday. Because of this, every carrier pickup is going to need to be made according to it. It’s not practical to expect the three days before Christmas to have much movement at all with your supply chain. You need to prepare for this and communicate it with your customers.

You also want your shipping carrier to be fully aware of your projected sales volume too. This can help to ensure they can handle it. Finally, you want to ask your entire supply chain whether or not they will be charging peak surfaces or other fees to handle your increased volume.

Having these changes in your forecast and communicating all of the needed stuff with your customers is necessary to ensure that you not only optimize your order fulfillment but also maintain good customer service throughout the holidays.

Offering faster shipping alternatives for your customers can be an excellent way to improve customer loyalty and ensure that you are delivering in time for the holidays. Offering expedited shipping will help your customers get the products they order faster so they don’t have to order too far in advance. A lot of customers save their shopping for the last minute. Thus, it can help you fulfill these orders from last-minute shoppers. You’ll need to do your due diligence when choosing the right expedited shipping services. If you work with either a 3PL or a 4PL, they will be very helpful in setting these up for you.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that you need to develop a solid strategy to ensure a successful holiday sales season. You want to have all of the requisite preparations in place to implement the most effective strategies for your biggest sales event of the year. It’s never too early to start planning for Q4.