Is your warehouse team ready to rise to the challenge this peak season?
For many warehouse logistics operations, the answer is “maybe.” Thanks to widespread labor shortages and continued supply chain disruptions, businesses are scrambling to stay ahead of rapidly changing conditions in addition to rising costs, which nine in 10 businesses expect to see this peak season.
And while retailers are building inventory early, many already have too much inventory on hand, which means needing bigger-than-usual sales ahead of and going into peak season. And more warehouse congestion, as potentially large volumes of inventory have to get out the door before new products can move in. That’s on top of continued rising demand for same- and next-day fulfillment.
What does all this mean for your warehouse logistics teams?
As we enter the 2022 peak season, here are three ways to manage tough situations, avoid extra stress and ensure your warehouse team is ready to go when the surge hits:
Step 1: Align your staffing level with your demand forecast
Demand forecasting is crucial for more than stocking inventory. Take a look at your year-over-year demand forecast to see if you need to hire more staff to handle projected inventory flow. Your team will need to be agile and flexible to meet the challenges of this year’s peak season, and that starts with having enough boots on the ground.
Here’s how to adjust staffing and their workflows to keep up with inventory movement:
- Rebalance your team so you have the right number of employees in each facility. For each location, compare last year’s hiring and demand to the current hiring and demand levels, along with projected holiday sales, to determine whether you need more or fewer workers at a given location.
- Consider ways to add flexibility to your staffing, so you can easily move workers between facilities to help stores keep up with sudden spikes in demand.
- Outsource as much as you can. Getting help from a third-party warehousing partner can free up your team’s time to focus on other duties and on improving customer experience.
- Perform frequent audits to clear out expired or non-moving stock, so personnel can access items quickly.
- Reposition inventory so your fastest movers are in the most convenient locations to speed up the picking and packing process for your team.
Setting yourself up with the right people and inventory in the right places can help your team work smarter and faster this peak season.
Step 2: Educate and train your employees
Whether you’re relying mostly on existing employees or bringing on seasonal help this peak season, education is important for all workers. If you haven’t already, start evaluating how to improve key areas of your business to help workers get more done during crunch time. You may want to:
- Make sure your onboarding process is designed to help new team members get up to speed quickly so they’re in sync with your existing crew when peak season gets in full swing.
- Work with your warehouse staff to optimize your picking, packing and delivery workflows to be efficient with your workers’ time and energy.
- Increase and strengthen communication between company leadership and frontline employees so they’re getting the support they need when they need it.
- Review and update operational and safety processes to ensure work gets done smoothly and safely and that all people — whether existing or new employees — are properly trained on the processes.
Step 3: Review your fulfillment partners — and use crowdsourcing to your advantage
Your mix of delivery partners affects your employees as much as it does your customers. Traditional carriers usually only pick up once per day, which leaves you 23 hours’ worth of orders taking up valuable staging space. Efficient order and delivery processing ensures your warehouse staff can keep orders moving in a steady and predictable fashion.
Adding crowdsourced on-demand delivery helps warehouse staff quickly and easily fulfill urgent orders without losing focus on what they do best.
You can level up your crowdsourced delivery model by consolidating orders into batched and routed deliveries. Batching and routing involves sending multiple orders with a single driver on a defined route — so you can streamline order processing and reduce the number of drivers coming to and from your warehouse.
Fully prepare your warehouse staff to make the most efficient use of crowdsourced delivery by:
- Assigning on-site contacts — we recommend at least two — for fulfillment partners and suppliers who will visit your facility.
- Training employees so they know how to best help crowdsourced drivers pick up their orders and get back on the road quickly.
- Reminding warehouse staff that crowdsourced delivery drivers will arrive in their own vehicles, not in uniform and may need help loading orders.
- Making your facility easy to navigate for drivers unfamiliar with the site by adding clear signage directing them to loading/unloading locations.
Take the next step to a smoother peak season.
Peak season is stressful enough at the best of times. Make sure warehouse staffing won’t be on your list of challenges this year.
By identifying and fixing inefficiencies in your inventory and picking process — and adding crowdsourcing for smoother order flow — you can give yourself the gift of seamless warehouse logistics operation this holiday season.
Ready to learn more? Download our playbook to discover how you can close fulfillment gaps in your warehouse with crowdsourced delivery.