Av Trimble smartdelivery | Article | October 8, 2019

How Retailers and Delivery Operators can Gear Up for Peak Period

The peak season is just around the corner, and delivery operators are getting all geared up for it. The challenges are obvious – diversity of the supply chain, and the need for on-time deliveries. But there are other challenges as well – challenges that are unforeseeable that lead to supply chain disruptions. Here are some tips for logistic suppliers to get through the peak period efficiently even with a tidal wave of increased demands.

Forecast and plan for deliveries

Before the tidal wave of orders hits you, you must know how you are going to cope with the increase in demand. Forecast the increase (by comparing to previous years), and then plan for it. Season-specific planning must begin at least six weeks before the peak period. When the peak period hits, there will be a sharp increase in demand for all products, and delivery volumes to stores will be very high. The stock building has to begin in advance.

All operators have a maximum number of authorised vehicles that are permitted on their licenses. Ensure that you are permitted to run a greater number of vehicles during the peak period. As well as vehicles, ensure you have enough people to meet the increase in demand. Will you work in shifts, and if so, how many shifts do you plan to run during peak holiday logistics season? How many agency workers will you hire? What kind of work will the agency workers do?

  1. Ensure your vehicle usage is covered. That means having enough drivers on board. Take into consideration holidays and sick days that are inevitable. With a few extra drivers up to your sleeve, you can ensure that all your vehicles depart from the distribution centre on time.
  2. Work and plan closely with your agency. Let the agency know about your plans before the peak season begins. This will enable them to be prepared to recruit, especially for the peak season. When agencies and the transportation department work together, it makes it easier to plan a certain headcount.
  3. Ensure your temporary hires are paid on time. Offer incentives so that they stay with you through the entire peak period.
  4. Integrate systems to ensure seamless functioning during the holiday season. Logistics process and logistics technology (for example, a transportation management system) integrates with your management system or ERP software.

According to Resilinc, a global supply chain disruption monitoring company, the number of supply chain disruptions (globally) increased by 36% in 2018. The reasons are clear – today, businesses have complex supply chains, and logistics operations have to contend with circumstances that are impossible to predict. But with the peak season around the corner, delivery operators must be able to prepare for the unexpected, such as:

  • An unanticipated sales spike. Yes, this could happen during the peak season due to external drivers. When you are not prepared for it, it could cause an unanticipated disruption. Ill-prepared retailers will be unable to meet the soaring demand, let alone connect and create long-term relationships with customers. It’s hard enough gearing up for planned peak seasons; its doubly hard planning for unanticipated spikes in sales. Establish clear communication regarding inventory. Ensure customer support staff and your staff members have real-time information about inventories to serve customers the best way possible.
  • Product problems, such as compromised food, clothes or toys that must be recalled. While this is an unfortunate incident, it is possible, and your supply chain could be the only difference between you managing the matter seamlessly or further aggravating the problem. With different warehouse providers to move goods from one point to another, it could be incredibly difficult to get a clear picture of where all the moving pieces are. Deviations can also occur at any point in the supply chain. Visibility and flexibility are necessary for the face of complexity and adverse situations like this. Structural flexibility must be made top priority along with aligned logistics, product and marketing teams who are ready to deal with adversity. In the face of supply chain disruptions, customer relationship must be prioritised over the transaction.