Prepare your stock and staff for the Christmas rush

Santa carrying presents down a warehouse aisle

It's the most wonderful time of year for everyone is around the holidays, but for retail, warehousing and supply chain, the Christmas Rush is an understatement.

People get to spend time with families, and businesses get to take in the last big profits during end-of-the-year sales. Any major event or celebration is an opportunity to push record numbers and go for huge sales figures, and Christmas is one of the most well known and most used holidays around the world. Any marketable nation with shipping and international eCommerce goes through the same seasonal Christmas rush as families organise big trips, buy tons of food for family feasts and of course: presents.

This critical time requires critical planning and preparation. An unprepared business that can’t handle the influx of orders or the management of their stock will be passed over during the holiday for whatever is the next best thing. Time is of the essence. There is no too early when preparing for Christmas time shipments. In fact, if you haven’t started by Thanksgiving, you might already be behind.

Only Comes Once A Year

The beginning of Christmas sales begins in late November with Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving officially marks the approach of the Christmas season, with no other holidays in between. There are, plenty, based on denominations, but Christmas is the most commercially substantial holiday all year. Whole businesses bloom and boom over Christmas, but the retail end kicks off a full month early. This is when management needs to start getting into gear as well, to stay ahead of the customer rush.

It may be worth it, in fact, to have a new time hired on that specialises in Christmas management and coordinating expectations. The inventory and shipping logistics for Christmas shopping is almost always a massive increase over the usual year-round sales figures. You should be stocked up a month in advance, as that’s when the present shopping will begin: right after Thanksgiving, or even the same day, as families go from their homes to the shops to walk off their big dinners. Don’t be thin on staff during this crucial period, or low on stock for any current and upcoming items.

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Stock the Halls

Make sure your warehouse is in top condition. No choked up lanes or logistic errors, not around this time. All the seasonal goods should be placed at the most immediately accessible areas to prevent any entanglements, and off-season goods should be placed further away. Anyone could be buying anything, of course, and Christmas isn’t the same around the world. The most accessible goods in a warehouse should be all-weather, all-purpose, and highly anticipated new goods. Namely: electronics.

If you run a niche website specialising in a much more narrow range of goods, rotate the inventory to make sure anything that might go on sale is up front and fast to access. Having extra hands on deck in the warehouse can increase productivity in this hectic period, even if it’s just temporarily. There might be plenty of people hoping for a job as their gift this Christmas. Advertise good holiday rates and wages for the extra work so your warehouse is in order and even one-day trainees can manage the orders as they come in.

Holiday Hits

Christmas sales aren’t like other sales. The fact that its Christmas means you can get away with putting more and more things on sale to take advantage of the larger number of orders than normal. Make sure your wholesalers can keep up with your needs and plan around your inventory to be flush with the products your customers will want. The real competition isn’t in who has the newest things, it’s who has the best deals. Customers will be much more vigilant over prices this season. They won’t be as likely to just settle for whatever is listed on leading eCommerce portals.

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With a healthy stock of products you should be able to weather the Christmas rush and move your inventory. If you get the right sales pitch and manage to get the right customers to come your way, you might even run out. Which, unfortunately, might mean later shipping as you restock from the busy wholesalers. They’ll have the same problem: if too many people want one thing then it will run out.

Around The World In One Night

Keeping your inventory stocked and your staff managed for seasonal rushes is simple tactics to stay afloat during increases in shopping volume. Businesses have these high and low periods all year round. Christmas is just another high period, a lot of movement and a need to market with more sales and short-term benefits in mind. People who do Christmas shopping in November provide for the biggest Black Friday bump, usually shopping on Friday or over the weekend and into Monday. But there are some - as in, enough - people who wait until the last minute to see what deals they can scrape by with and still get the shipping dates in time to wrap their gifts.

December is the real killer month that needs to be prepared for. You have to prepare your business for the people who weren’t prepared at all and won’t accept anything later than Christmas Day for shipping. Delivery from the warehouse to storefronts or direct to customers needs to be on point for this, and you may need to hire out to external companies to assist if the orders become too much to keep up. You could be facing refunds if people don’t get their deliveries fast enough, because if it’s not there on Christmas Day, they’ll find another way to get it. Being the company that saved someone’s Christmas will make them remember you for the whole year, right up to the next time they need you to fill in for Santa and expedite their delivery.

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Published: 25 November 2021