Christmas is almost here – is your warehouse ready?

With the holiday season and Christmas right around the corner, if you haven’t yet prepared for the ramp-up in business, now is the time. Some companies do up to 50% of their business in the last quarter of the year (Black Friday, Cyber Monday and of course – Christmas). If your business is a seasonal business with year-end increases, your warehouse needs to be in tip-top shape to accommodate the surge.

Christmas warehouse

There are many things to take care of on an ongoing basis in any warehouse, but a few are even more critical during the busy holiday season:

  1. Warehouse Order Projections

As previously mentioned, many holiday-heavy businesses receive as many as 50% of their orders in the fourth quarter of the year, and most being in the last 30 days of the year. Do you have a good idea of what to expect from past years’ sales reports?

Can you project down to the daily level and determine how much product you need to move? Do you have the latest order flow projections from the sales and marketing group? There are a number of software packages that you can use to manage your inventory flow on an ongoing basis, but be careful in introducing a new system too late in the year.

  1. The layout of your warehouse

Review the layout of each area in your warehouse. Ensure that everything, from inventory to shipping are all ready for the increase in traffic. Do you have enough space to accommodate much more product arriving at your warehouse? Focus on improving organization, flow, storage capacity and space utilization at this stage so you’re not left scrambling once the trucks start rolling in.

  1. Warehouse Space Requirements

Holiday-heavy businesses often see dramatic inventory increase. Even though inventory turns should be much higher than the rest of the year, product often arrives weeks or months before it will sell. You need to take your specific warehouse into consideration. For example, many warehouses are set up with all beam spacings the same, which results in shorter pallets leaving lots of open space above them. Think about that and ask yourself some vital questions:

-Have you made similar arrangements for this holiday?

-Are all your primary locations filled to max?

-Have you performed pallet consolidation to free up additional rack positions?

  1. Warehouse Staffing

Once you have your volume projections, you will need to staff up to meet the demand. Have you calculated your staffing needs by day to meet your service level goals (orders/boxes per hour per employee, lines picked per hour per picker, etc.)?

Make sure to get HR onboard with your needs. Once you understand your staffing needs, also consider:

-Are you offering a bonus to the seasonal workers? Please offer them something, even an amazon voucher, but make sure they feel rewarded.

-Have you contracted with a staffing agency to provide backfill if you need it?

-What is your staffing strategy if orders are significantly greater or less than planned?

Many companies have a well-defined time-off policy during peak seasons to make sure there are enough workers there to handle the load every single day.

  1. Warehouse Maintenance

Your ability to adequately handle a surge in business is dependent upon your equipment working properly. Making sure you have maintained all your material handling equipment before you hit your surge is vital to a successful holiday season.

Make sure to check and double-check the following:

  • -Lift equipment
  • -Power conveyors
  • -PLC systems
  • -Backup power supply (generator)
  • -Scanners
  • -Order printers
  • -Company vehicles

Also, if you are located in an area with winter weather, have you made arrangements for snow removal?

There is a lot to do to prepare your warehouse for the holidays. Following these tips should help get you positioned for a successful season. And after the holiday rush is over, make note of what you did and what you learned so you can make the process easier next year.