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The seasonal sales spike is fast approaching for warehouses and retail outlets of any size, and the thought probably already has you and your staff pretty tired.

Sometimes it can feel like, no matter what you do or how many holiday seasons you’ve already suffered through, you’re always trying to find a better way to get ready and get things done.

While every warehouse will have different requirements for the peak season depending on their product lines and client base, there’s always a few things every warehouse can do (or should at least consider doing) as the peak season starts to ramp up to make it easier on everyone.

Here’s a quick checklist of things to do before the peak season starts for your warehouse, and how these tips can be changed depending on the sort of warehouse you work in:


  • Get a sales forecast: As soon as possible, review your peak season sales data from the previous year. Compare things like marketing spend, promotions that may have affected sales in the short term (accounting for a sudden spike where there may not be one this year), and general weekly sales data. This will give you an idea of how to plan staffing levels, what kind of sales figures to expect, and a better overall idea of how your holidays may go in the future.
  • Review staffing levels: We’re all familiar with the usual holiday crunch when it comes to staffing (both with temps and otherwise), but proper staffing optimization can only come with a careful review of your previous staffing levels and your current availability. Few things can be more frustrating than under- or over-staffing resulting in either labor shortages or the need for emergency call-ins, but these issues are easily prevented by checking your staffing levels against the previous year’s. Were there days you found yourself constantly short-handed? Did you need to call people off on days where you were over-scheduled? Review any standout days on the previous schedule and see what you can do to prevent that issue going forward.
  • Confirm your current inventory: Even before the flood of holiday products begins, you’ll want to take some time to check your current inventory. Have you received new shipments of your biggest sellers? Are you still waiting on products for a certain promotion or a certain sale—and if so, can you contact your vendor or supplier to see what’s up? How many items are you still expecting to get? Check your inventory levels and see what’s still en route before you do any further planning.
  • Review your warehouse layout: There’s probably been times during the year where you needed to relocate some warehouse shelves, but now is the time to really sit down and see where everything should go. If there’s traffic patterns that can be adjusted by shuffling around some pallet racks, do it now before it becomes a bigger problem. If there’s an area that’s constantly underserved by not having enough wire shelves or steel shelves such as the shipping/receiving zone, try to add more storage where appropriate. Focusing on this now will help ensure a smoother flow of work when the going gets tougher.
  • Get training: As soon as you’ve figured out if/when you’ll need temporary holiday help, start training them as soon as possible. Finalize your training documents and make sure they’re the same across the board for all the departments to avoid miscommunications, and start with a regularly-scheduled training program for all workers as soon as able to ensure nobody gets left out and nothing gets overlooked during the training process.


Once you have all these checked off, you should have much smoother sailing during the rough holiday months. (Just try to remember these tips for next year.)

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