Preparing your warehouse, inventory and staff are all essential things to do before Christmas descends. It’s the time of year when people are panic-buying and wanting to receive their gifts fast. Meaning it’s the worst time of year to fall short.

In fact, last year FedEx got in trouble for failing to deliver packages on or before Christmas as they had promised. Disgruntled customers took to the internet to publically voice their complaints.

“Anger toward FedEx bubbled over on social media Thursday night and Friday morning, as people blamed the delivery company for ruining their holiday. Many people called FedEx the “Christmas Grinch.” – CNN Money

Apparently, FedEx had employees working over Christmas to deliver delayed packages. Resorting to this is not only bad for customers, but also less than ideal for your workforce and their families. To avoid this, here’s a few suggestions to get the ‘front of house’ ready to meet the increased demands this festive season.

1. Review Sales Data for Proper Stock Placement

Stock that’s guaranteed to fly off the shelves needs to be at the front of the picking area. To determine what stock needs to get moved around for easy shipping, you’ll need to spend some time reviewing sales data from previous years.

2. Assess Your Staffing Needs

Due to holiday travel, you may have less staff than normal to run your warehouse operations on Black Friday. To avoid a possible holdup in picking or shipping, check to make sure you’re armed with enough staff to deal with your flood of Christmas orders. If a shortage looks likely, you might need to contact staffing agencies in advance to secure additional temporary workers.

Alternatively, you could free up staff by introducing automation to your packaging process. Machinery can help you speed up the time it takes for products to be packaged and out for delivery, with greater consistency. This will then help you free up staff so they can spend time with their families over the Christmas period. Or even just to let them concentrate on other areas of the warehouse.

3. Organise Your Warehouse in Advance

After you’ve moved stock and addressed shortages of staff or automation, it’s time to do some spring-cleaning.

A disorganised warehouse is a sluggish, unproductive warehouse, and that applies to the whole year round. But organising your warehouse layout before peak season will drastically improve your service during busy times. Organise your shelves, improve picking and optimise your packing and distribution areas. It might help to look at past Christmases to see if anything could have been improved, and apply it to this year’s clean up.

4. Test Your Existing Warehouse Technology

Machines can fail, and if your technology goes down on the busiest day of the year, it can cause you big, big problems. Checking and testing these essential warehouse management tools in advance can help you make sure you’re ready to meet the increased demands without any technology hiccups.

There’s no need to wait until the rush to see that your equipment isn’t up to scratch – give it a test to make sure it’s ready to work hard.  A quick inspection should give you enough time to repair or replace faulty equipment.