During the holiday season, warehouses experience a significant increase in activity over several months. This surge in activity, also known as the “peak season,” begins in October and lasts until January, coinciding with the high volume of post-holiday returns. Both online and physical shopping carts are filled up by holiday shoppers during this time, increasing warehouse activity.

At this time, warehouses and distribution centres are pressured to increase their operations and fulfil a growing list of requirements. However, it has become increasingly challenging in recent years due to supply chain disruptions, shortage of labour, and the rising demand from consumers for speedy delivery and personalised services.

Peak season is challenging for most businesses. Fortunately, there are many things your business can do to make this holiday season your best yet. Here are some tips to increase efficiency as you prepare for peak season.

Start Planning Early

It’s best to start planning for the next peak season right after the previous one ends. This is when the details of what occurred are still fresh in your mind. However, each peak season may present challenges, so studying the data and trends is essential. As you analyse the information, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How has peak season activity changed over the past several years?
  • What challenges did you face over the past peak season?
  • Did you identify any opportunities to improve operations?
  • Have you made any operational changes since the last peak season that would impact your next one?

Although inventory forecasting is only partially accurate, you should use available data and insights to improve inventory management.

Optimise Your Warehouse Layout

Examining your warehouse layout is essential to ensure that your warehouse operations are safe during peak season. It is crucial to focus on each area of your warehouse, including shipping, receiving, storage, picking, and packing, among others, and look at the big picture.

For instance, a well-designed receiving area will facilitate the quick movement of items into the warehouse and their storage in inventory locations. Inventory should be stored in the most optimal way possible, with high-turnover products placed closer to the picking and packing areas. If you can make significant adjustments, it may be advisable to free up some room in your warehouse by adding bins, utilizing vertical space, or creating more narrow aisles.

Lastly, consider how you will incorporate technology into your warehouse operations. For example, using mobile workstations throughout the warehouse can minimize the need for office space and centralized printing stations.

Hire & Train More Staff

Over the past several years, labour shortages and high turnover rates have plagued the warehousing industry. However, you will need additional staff to succeed during peak season. With more orders, you’ll need more bodies to handle order fulfilment and inventory management. Some of the ways you can approach staffing include:

  • Offer bonus incentives for current employees to improve attendance and performance. 
  • Consider sign-up bonuses for short-term and temporary workers. 
  • Think of ways to make work exciting and fun, like free snacks, raffles, and prizes for workers. 

Give them adequate training as you bring in more workers for peak season. The exact peak season training should be provided to your current associates to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Find out who has worked through peak season with your company before and consider making these associates trainers or team leaders. Create engaging training materials or programs and educate your workers about your specific processes and expectations.

Leverage the Right Technology

As someone who manages a warehouse during peak season, you know that efficiency and communication are critical to the success of your business. The good news is that there are many technology solutions available to help you increase productivity, minimize errors, and even reduce costs. Some examples of helpful warehouse technology solutions include:

  • Warehouse Management System (WMS) — A WMS can help with inventory management, order fulfilment, materials tracking, billing, and more. 
  • Barcodes and RFID Tags — Using barcodes and RFID tags on products, pallets, bins, and machinery gives your warehouse more visibility throughout the process. 
  • Automated Picking Tools — Automation tools can help your human workers with picking and packing operations during the busiest time of the year. 
  • Mobile-Powered Carts — Mobile computer workstations and printer carts allow workers to take their technology throughout the warehouse and double their productivity. 
  • Wearable Technology — Wearable technology like wireless headsets can help workers with picking operations and machine maintenance and repair operations. 

Streamline Your Returns Management

Handling returns has become an essential part of doing business. Consumers have high standards, and during peak season, return rates are even higher. If your business isn’t ready to handle the reverse logistics process efficiently during peak season, it risks losing significant revenue and eroding consumer trust. Luckily, many of the technology solutions that apply to your fulfilment processes will also work here. 

Preparing for the next peak season may seem far off. Still, businesses in the warehousing or logistics industry can take immediate action to prepare for the surge in consumer shopping and fulfilment activity. The time to start preparing and implementing the right solutions in your warehouse is now.

If you want help preparing for your next peak season, get in touch.

Improve the way your warehouse works

01773 718 719