It’s that time of year again… Fall colors are on full display, and the winter retail season beckons. As shoppers begin to compile their holiday wish lists, one of the major questions you’ll have to answer is whether your infrastructure can handle the busy months ahead.
Omnichannel retail is a complex undertaking at the best of times, and the brisk activity of peak season tends to throw curve balls and strain platforms to their breaking point. Unless you fortify ahead of time, your company could miss out on business due to its inability to handle orders.
This year, Deloitte is predicting that holiday spending will increase between 3.6 and 4%, to top $1 trillion, and much of the merchandise customers will be buying is already on store shelves. Unless you have strong logistics partnerships in place now, the season ahead may be taxing. The next few months promise a non-stop strain on the systems involved, with goods crisscrossing the globe from manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers to your customer base.
The Journal of Commerce gave a bullish outlook on this year’s peak season in particular, responding to the import numbers seen at major U.S. ports of Oakland and Los Angeles. July imports in LA were 5.15% higher this year than last, meaning that this holiday season’s continued shipping strength could improve on last year’s. In fact, many industry insiders predict growth, though they are split on how much will occur.
Are Your Operations Ready for the Rush?
The reason to focus on the massive influx of goods for this year’s peak shipping and shopping seasons is to ensure you’re ready to serve your customers during the months ahead. If your logistics operations can’t cope with spikes in demand, this season could turn into a series of missed opportunities. Now’s your last chance before the huge stockpile of goods coming in through the ports is flooded through the market, so it’s a good time to think about the benefits that could come from improving your fulfillment solution:
- Inventory from Different Sources: Companies with rigid supply chains may end up with no choice but to either ship slowly or at great cost. Working with a network that can pull from multiple distribution centers, on the other hand, can produce better results. Third parties with access to these more advanced supply chains can become valuable logistics partners, especially at times such as peak season, when ramping up productivity is not optional.
- Omnichannel Fulfillment: Chances are, during the holidays this year, your shoppers will be contacting your company through more than one channel. If you operate both physical and online storefronts, or have alternative distribution channels like call centers or retail partners that sell your goods, you need to ensure that those sides of the business are operating in tandem. Logistics solutions that can’t integrate multiple channels may lead to waste or a lack of agility.
- Reporting and Analytics: One of the defining features of a great fulfillment solution is visibility. If you don’t have access to high-quality and current data on how sales are developing, you may end up missing trends as they develop and, as a result, lose out on opportunities to improve service. You should always know what’s going on in your logistics network.
Before we take the plunge into the busiest retail months of the year, take a good look at your current fulfillment solution. If you aren’t impressed by what you see, the time to make a change is now. Facing the rush with an option that does not inspire confidence may lead to missed opportunities and dissatisfied customers, and your business deserves better.