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If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably seen or heard the phrase “supply chain issues” enough times over the past 3 years to make your head spin. 


And while we may be slowly continuing to inch away from the various supply chain delays, disruptions, and disasters that we’ve all encountered over the previous few years, the fact of the matter is that supply chain disruptions and issues can still crop up when you least want them – and that goes double for the holiday season.


Yes, the fourth quarter of any year brings its own unique set of hassles and complications into any warehouse, and this will always apply to the supply chain, no matter how far away from the pandemic we all insist we are. However, it doesn’t have to be so gloomy! 


With a little planning ahead, you can cut off a lot of potential supply chain issues right up front, before they even get a chance to make life harder for your warehouse staff.


Resolving Holiday Supply Chain Issues – Before They Even Start


Predict the future – by studying your past: As dramatic as that sounds, we’re not expecting you to be Bill & Ted or anything like that. It can, however, go a long way towards preventing supply chain issues by reviewing several key factors and events from the recent past to see what issues have already cropped up – and when they might again.


Was a certain supplier prone to running late, or having product shortages? Is a region you serve more prone to weather-related delays and issues than others? Were more workers out with illness during a certain time of the year? By being more aware of when and where these issues occurred, you can create contingency plans in case they crop up again near the end of the year. 


Project stock needs using historical data: Similarly, by doing a historical drill-down on your sales figures, you can get a much better idea of what to stock, and how much of it you should have on hand.


Check last year’s holiday volume and overall historical year-over-year data to see what grew, what shrank, and what remained consistent. In today’s ecommerce world, more sales are lost due to an item being out of stock, even in the case of returning customers, and being aware of what you’ll want to order more of can prevent you from scrambling to find replacements during peak shopping times.


Set cutoff dates: Nobody ever enjoys making these decisions, but preventing the late delivery of needed items will go a long way towards alleviating any potential holiday-season hangups. Consider this for both items coming into your warehouse, and items going out: Make sure to set a date that all main stock (and potentially safety stock) needs to be ordered in by, and set a similar date for when all orders need to be placed in order to arrive by the holidays. This will prevent a rush of last-minute orders that your team won’t be able to fulfill in time, not to mention ensuring your stock is present right when you need it to be.


Ensure a clear understanding of picking processes: As hard as your teams may work, the massive influx of orders and products that come in around the holidays can naturally lead to mistakes such as mispicks that can delay the overall handling time of your orders. Before things start to get too busy, make sure to review all your picking processes and handling strategies with your internal teams to get everyone on the same page and avoid as many snarls as possible.


The same can be said for your shelving: make sure all your shelves are equipped with the appropriate shelving labels to make finding the items as fast as it can be, and consider encouraging the use of equipment like gravity flow racks to help product move as quickly as it can to its final destination. 

Sure, there’s no way to completely remove the potential for complications around the busy time of year, but by minimizing them, you’ll be making an easier holiday season for your team and your customers.



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