Peak season is a crazy time period for manufacturers and warehouses. Communication between the ecommerce retailer and their 3PL warehouse is VITAL for a successful peak season. There are a lot of moving parts during peak season with high order volumes and increased inventory turns. Most ecommerce retailers process 40% or more of their volume during the 4th quarter. Therefore, it is important that the 3PL and the retailer are on the same page.
Communication for peak season should occur months out from the 4thquarter. Many companies have 4th quarter forecasts 5-6 months ahead of time. 3PLs and retailers have a number of topics that need to be discussed, i.e. delivery deadlines, last minute customer demands, forecasts and back up plans. Yes, unfortunately you do need back up plans because the holiday season and high volumes can come with issues and many times can be due to Mother Nature delaying deliveries or inbounds of replenishment product to the DC. Each of these topics needs to be broken down in detail by the retailer to the fulfillment center.
As I mentioned, meetings months before between the 3PL and retailer are key for coming up with a plan to handle the peak operation. Many retailers run promotions, seasonal SKUs and other value added services for gift wrapping or packing during peak season. All of these items need to be addressed prior to peak season in order to avoid last minute scrambling and questions during the high volume time period. When questions or issues come up, it can cause delays in the process and affect the end user.
If you are a retailer using a 3PL in your supply chain, make sure you chose a 3PL with the knowledge of fulfillment seasonal volumes and experienced in handling holiday strategies. The more lead time you have for planning will help with staffing and prep for other value added services that may be needed. The goal is for the customers to continue to have the best customer experience possible with these retailers. All of these items are critical for a successful operation and partnership during peak season, and everything starts with COMMUNICATION.
For more information on how IDS can help with a solution for your peak season operation, contact us today!