Hershey Direct: Staging a Sweet Holiday
As with holiday gift shopping, the best way to ensure a happy holiday season for your catalog operation is to do as much as you can ahead of time—from planning and production to picking, packing ... and even loading the trucks.
For Hershey Direct, the catalog arm of Hershey’s Chocolate World, a division of Hershey Foods, the Christmas holiday is by far its busiest season, drawing a whopping 85 percent of the division’s sales activity. (The second and third busiest seasons are the spring catalog, which mails in time for Mother’s Day, followed by the Valentine’s Day catalog.)
Ramping up for the big rush is a huge undertaking that requires months of advance work and planning.
“To gear up for our busiest season, I begin operations planning for next year as soon as the season is over,” says Colleen Gill, operations and fulfillment manager, Hershey Direct, who oversees manufacturing, shipping, inventory and the call center.
Key to Hershey Direct’s success in handling this seasonal volume is that it manufactures and assembles product prior to peak season, according to Bill Kuipers, principal of Spaide, Kuipers & Co., Haskell, NJ, a consulting firm that works with Hershey Direct.
Another way Hershey Direct tries to ease the seasonal rushes a bit, says Gill, is by encouraging more early-holiday orders from its customers. “We’re always testing ideas, and we roll out with any that work for us,” Gill says.
For instance, last year’s holiday book, the 2000 Hershey’s Gifts catalog (pictured at right), offered shoppers a free gift box of Hershey’s Golden Almond Bars if they placed holiday orders by Nov. 15. Gill notes that while these strategies help somewhat, “People, by nature, tend to order close to the holiday or gift occasion, and our processes are built to support our customers.”