Economic growth and increased online consumer spending has meant that seasonal peaks need wildly efficient distribution centres to help businesses keep up with the growing demand. You’ll need to be able to meet these demands and fulfil orders profitably, all while providing great customer service, so no one ends up disappointed at Christmas.

But the best part is that by making sure your distribution centre can handle the weight of holiday orders, you’ll end up with the knowledge to maintain that flexibility and carry it through to the new year, and beyond.

So, here’s some things you can do to help:

  • Balance your inventory

    Determining the right amount of safety stock at the right locations and right times can be a huge challenge for many companies. But by planning effectively, these companies can considerably improve their ability to respond to seasonal demand without any extra costs. Identify your specific demand patterns throughout the year with an inventory optimisation solution such as ‘cycle counting’, and you’ll know exactly how much inventory to stock.

  • Increase your workforce

    As the holidays approach, you may need to employ extra staff so you have enough hands helping you meet your customer demand. You might even need to keep these people on for the new year. To keep your distribution centre running smoothly, it’s best to start thinking about this now. Will you be introducing new people to your team? Or will you be adding extra automated packaging machines to free up some of those hands, allowing them to focus on other areas?

  • Re-evaluate order deadlines

    Moving your order deadlines a day or two earlier can help you relieve last-minute stresses. Especially for times when shippers have been a little too confident on delivery for items ordered right before Christmas. Setting more realistic expectations with your customers gives you more time to execute successful logistics.

  • Ensure your systems can handle the volume

    Finally, it’s important that your logistics processes and any new investments in technology can seamlessly integrate into your existing software. Because if your internal system isn’t ready for both the expected and unexpected peaks in demand, you might struggle.

There’s no doubt that the holiday season always puts extra stress on your distribution centre. It’s a time for competitiveness in the business landscape, and if you falter, you could end up with publicly vented frustrations directed at you from your customers. To avoid this not just at Christmas, but all year around, logistics managers need to learn from past mistakes, plan how they can be at a competitive advantage, and step into a successful 2017.