3 Tips for an Improved Holiday Supply Chain
With the holiday season accounting for 20 percent to 40 percent of a retailer's annual sales, the 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas this year are crucial. This is especially true for electronics retailers, which are hard-pressed to deliver the season's most anticipated devices, such as wearable technologies, smartphones and tablets.
Without having the right products at the right place at the right time, capturing peak spending is next to impossible. Therefore, the following supply chain guidelines are essential for retailers’ holiday success as well as building customer loyalty:
1. Have a dedicated supply chain strategy in place well in advance. Efficient supply chains are key competitive differentiators. Along with high-pressure, high-demand delivery and unpredictable stocking needs, the peak season's distinctive set of logistical circumstances requires a unique strategy. Creating a lean, agile supply chain for the holidays allows retailers to adapt to volatile swings in demand, deliver faster and guarantee product availability for any purchasing channel. Retailers should forecast and plan ahead for supply shortages, severe weather and expedited shipments, and work with supply chain service providers that help execute the plan.
Typically, holiday supply chain preparation begins in January when the product portfolio is set for the year. This means retailers should begin 2015 peak season planning as soon as the 2014 holidays wrap up. It's recommended that retailers start forecasting demand and working with manufacturers to strategize intake, stocking and returns preparation at least six months out. This particularly applies to mobile device and electronics retailers that rely on the timely delivery of many of their products from overseas. The challenge is that ports are notoriously crowded at this point in the season, so it's advisable to have the right visibility and flexibility in the supply chain. This will allow time to react to a slower port-intake process to either reroute the delivery of shipments or expedite them.