Christmas can be an extremely busy time of year for any business, particularly if you’re selling consumer products that are in high demand over this period. But spare a thought for dear old Santa. He has to manage a massive increase in stock demand, tight time constraints to fulfil orders and account for fluctuations in different stock lines that change in popularity from year to year. All this while having to contend with a grumpy Mrs. Claus who’s sick of him doing so much overtime and always being late for dinner.
Sound familiar? Santa’s got some experience with inventory management. We’ve written to him asking for his personal secrets, but the North Pole Post can be slow around this time of year. While we don’t know all his secrets, we’ve put together a few that he’s sure to agree with, and that will make it a merrier Christmas for you.
‘Tis the Season of Stock Fluctuation
Christmas can bring with it some of the largest fluctuations in stock throughout the entire year. Understanding your expected demand, based on previous years’ sales history, can give you a good indication of what to expect. But what if specific products have changed throughout the year? Classification of products with categories and sub-categories can help you identify which product lines increase and decrease in demand, rather than only measuring the specific products which may have changed throughout the year. Be sure to take notice of how often your individual items change and adjust your reporting to account for it.
Make It a Song for the Elves
You can bet that Santa doesn’t run around the warehouse calculating purchasing requirements, fulfilling orders and managing the pick, pack, ship process himself. He relies on his elves the same way you rely on your warehouse staff to keep your stock coming in and going out efficiently. The smoother you can get things running, the more stock you can turn over and more sales you can fulfil. To maximise your operational efficiency, look at how you can help your elves, I mean warehouse staff, to work smarter.
Are your most popular products located at the back of your warehouse, needing staff to walk the length of the warehouse each time they pick those items? Are similar items grouped together, making it more intuitive for workers doing the picking? There are significant time savings to be made if you’re reporting on which products are in high demand, grouping them appropriately and moving them closer to where your staff complete the pick, pack, ship process.
Modernise and Mobilise
How often are your warehouse staff heading back to their desktop or laptop to get their next picking slip or receipt more orders? When it comes to warehouse operations, every additional step is costing you money, so consider a solution which feeds your picking staff the information they need, directly to their handheld scanning units.
A full WMS solution such as Movilizer will empower your staff to manage purchasing and receiving, barcode scanning, bin put-aways and the full pick, pack, ship process right from handheld devices, removing the need to keep travelling back to desktop computers all the time.
An Automated Affair
If you’re using the right inventory management software, it can be like having your own personal army of elves keeping things running behind the scenes. By setting up automation for aspects such as stock ordering with set minimum and maximum levels, triggered reminders, alerts and personalised customer communications, you can take the heavy lifting out of your warehouse administration and give everyone some more time in their day.
Get a Head Start on Post-Christmas Activities
Setting up and automating your reports to keep track of how product sales are performing will keep you one step ahead over the busy Christmas period. You’ll gain a better view of which items you’re likely to have an excess of after the Christmas rush and when you may need to quickly adjust your purchasing to reduce excess stock.
Christmas can be a stressful time – even for Santa. But he’s lucky enough to have an army of elves and a little magic on his side. For the rest of us, reducing excess stock and becoming more efficient with operations to increase warehouse profitability is what really keeps our stress levels down.
If you’re finding it difficult to predict stock demand, run more efficiently with mobile functionality, automate your operations and get a head-start on the busy period, get in touch to find out how the right inventory management solution could be the little piece of magic you need to have a very merry Christmas.
Also have a read of our eBook - the Ultimate Guide to Inventory Management for even more great ideas on better inventory management.