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The holiday season can be a rough time for warehouses under the best of circumstances, but during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it can be an all-new challenge.

The needs for social distancing and hygiene in the warehouse need to be balanced with the influx of orders in the near future, which are projected to be at all-time highs even by the standards of modern ecommerce holiday shopping.

As a result, it can be tough to know where to start when it comes to handling your inventory and managing your team during these unprecedented times. We’ve pulled together a few of our favorite tips for managing the holiday rush during COVID-19, and how your warehouse can implement them.

 

Getting Ready for the Holidays During the Pandemic

 

Implement more quarantine of products

The holiday season means more products will be coming in, and at a much faster rate than normal. As a result, many warehouses are implementing brief quarantine periods for products coming in from vendors, as well as any product returned by customers.

As space allows, create a place to quarantine new shipments, focusing on items coming in from high-risk areas and/or individual customer homes (since you never know what they might have). Use germ-free shelving like NSF shelves to create a space where products can stay for 24-72 hours as needed before being returned to the general inventory area.

 

Increase distance between workstations

While social distancing on the shop floor has become a common procedure in recent times, the same planning and safety concerns should be extended to the more stationary aspects of the warehouse, such as packaging stations and receiving areas.

Wherever able, make sure to increase the distance between any workbenches that are used for preparing items, and limit the amount of workers that can be around them at any time.

 

Reduce office staff

Odds are, any of your office staff (marketing, logistics, etc) have either been working from home the entire time, or are on greatly reduced schedules to reduce the potential spread of any germs or illness. This will grow in importance as you bring in more warehouse workers, so make sure your office staff is kept home to ensure compliance with any state or federal guidelines regarding the total capacity of your warehouse. If anyone needs to access their former office space to get a tablet charger or anything, make sure any of the office furniture they came in contact with is wiped down immediately.

 

Be flexible with vendors and suppliers

Finally, as we’ve all encountered over the last year, product shortages are going to be a common occurrence through the end of the year. This will require you to be more flexible when it comes to vendors – make sure you have enough options to fulfill popular products if your usual vendor suddenly runs out of something you’re getting a lot of orders for.

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