How was Peak last year? Did you cope well or was it a bit fraught? Were you able to secure enough staff? What could you do better this time round?

Peak is always challenging and often throws in a few curve balls to test how well prepared a business is. It goes without saying that the better prepared you are, the better the position you will be in to manage whatever comes your way. But it’s easy to overlook some important factors that could be the key to ensuring this year’s Peak is a success.

At Antalis Packaging, we have learned a lot from working with our customers over the years, and our packaging experts are some of the most knowledgeable in the industry. We know that getting your packaging materials and workflow right are crucial. But these days there is more to it than that. In an industry struggling with labour shortages, environmental concerns, and rising expectation from clients and consumers, there is a lot to consider.

To get you on the right track, we have distilled our learnings to put together the following 10 tips to help make this year’s Peak your best ever.

10 Tips for Planning a Successful Peak

1. Forecasting and planning

A review of historical data can be helpful in determining how to allocate labour, space and shipping resources for the next Peak. It’s also a useful exercise to run through different scenarios to identify weak points and map out processes.

A review of historical data can be helpful in determining how to allocate labour, space and shipping resources for the next Peak. It’s also a useful exercise to run through different scenarios to identify weak points and map out processes.

2. Packaging supply

Review your packaging supply. It’s during Peak that a good packaging supplier can really come into their own. Their in-depth knowledge of materials and systems can be a valuable asset in optimising a packing operation in readiness for Peak. If your relationship with your packaging supplier is purely transactional, now might be the time to start asking questions or look for a new one.

3. Staff training

With Peak also comes an influx of temporary staff, all of whom need to be trained and ready to go. Labour is the most expensive resource of most businesses so there is pressure to make sure it’s not wasted. It’s important to ensure all staff, both temporary and permanent are thoroughly briefed on their roles and procedures. Also think carefully about who is assigned which role in order to maximise productivity.

4. Be returns ready

Preparing for Peak involves much more than having everything in place for order fulfilment; it’s just as important to be ready for the influx of returns that follows. Make the process as easy as possible for the consumer as well as for staff by using good quality, resealable packaging that can withstand more than one journey.

5. Automation and machinery

Pressure to get orders processed during peak, coupled with a reliance on a temporary workforce, can lead to a deterioration in quality of output and an increase in wastage of packaging materials. The good news is that much of this can be overcome with the introduction of some degree of packaging automation to the process. Not only is machinery faster and more efficient, it also produces more consistent output, and reduces the need for temporary staff.

6. Bespoke packaging

Bespoke packaging can be a game changer during Peak. It can be designed to address a plethora of issues, offering real advantages over standard materials, including better product protection, quicker assembly times, lower transport costs and environmental impact, and can incorporate any number of features to enhance branding and the customer experience.

7. Packaging Materials

There’s no better time to review packaging materials than when planning for Peak. As products change defunct inventory can start to accumulate, clogging up valuable warehouse space. As well as clearing out old materials, take the opportunity to review all your current packaging materials, including cartons, void fill, cushioning, and even tape. Speak to your packaging supplier for recommendations of products that are more efficient to use and to store.

8. Warehouse set-up

Optimising the set-up of the warehouse and packing area is crucial in order to be able to cope with the increased activity during Peak. Also test any technology and machinery to make sure everything is in tip-top condition. Taking the time to do this now will pay dividends not only during Peak but year-round.

9. Optimising delivery

Maximising the number of packages on a load can help to cut transport costs, minimise backlogs and limit the environmental impact of a busy delivery schedule.  This can be achieved by reducing the volume of packaging by switching to some of the more robust and space-efficient materials now available and adopting more effective pallet-stacking technique.

10. Customer experience

Peak is an important time of year for customers, too, so maintaining quality control is vital. And if ever there was a time to ‘WOW’ customers the quality of packaging it’s now. Far from letting standards slip, Peak is when businesses need to step things up a notch or two, so consider festively printed cushioning, and digitally printed seasonal messages and promotions to spread a little cheer and keep customers coming back throughout the year.

If you’re ready to start planning for peak, contact us to arrange a complimentary Peak Planning Consultation and operations health check with one of our packaging experts.

Or, download our Ultimate Guide for Planning for a Successful Peak here