Top 3 Bottlenecks in the Warehouse During the Holidays
2. Pick and pack lines: Warehouse pack stations have limits. For example, if your maximum capacity is to handle 100 orders per day at a pack station, you can't automatically increase the capacity of that station when orders spike in November and December. As a result, having a clear understanding of expected daily volume along with opportunities to pack orders through an alternative process will be key to eliminating any shipping backlogs that result from gaps in pack station infrastructure and demand.
To prepare for the holidays, you need accurate information about pick and pack activities on a per station basis. And if you are relying on scanners, carts, totes or other options, you must ensure enough resources are on hand to support peak days. Your maximum daily capacity, when compared to peak selling days, will determine when the backlogs could occur. If the gap is too large on key days like your ground shipping cutoff day, you may never be able to recover without incurring huge expenses in upgraded shipping costs.
In some cases, it might make sense to reorganize your pack stations, create mini assembly lines or other strategies such as "quick pick" lines that support orders for only best-selling items. Any opportunity to batch and pack orders more efficiently will help reduce the pressure and reliance on your traditional pack stations.
3. People power: Across the board, the biggest challenge during the holidays is finding qualified people to work in your warehouse. If you have forecasted properly, you should know how many people you need to pick and pack orders each day. Now you need to recruit, train, schedule and manage those workers as cost effectively as possible.
I've found that the best way to staff warehouses for holiday peaks is a simplified and effective onboarding process. New hires are trained, attached to experienced pickers or packers for half a day, and then cut loose to work on their own. Warehouse monitoring and performance incentives ensure the achievement of performance benchmarks and keep the warehouse running smoothly throughout the season.
Maria Haggerty is CEO and one of the original founders of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business with a concentration in Accounting. Maria plays an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the business, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. As CEO, she is responsible for providing strategic leadership, establishing long range goals, and developing strategies for the senior leadership team. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities while achieving favorable results. She works closely with the leadership team to enhance, develop, and enforce procedures that will improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the corporation. During her tenure at the Dotcom, Maria has developed an environment of continual improvement by supporting the Senior Leadership Team and their department managers on continuous process, space labor, automation, and financial best practices. Prior to founding Dotcom, Maria was a CPA at Arthur Andersen and was later the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video where she helped grow the company’s distribution business. When Maria is not in the office, she enjoys traveling around the world and practicing her photography skills.