During the pandemic, supply chains boomed with unprecedented growth and acceleration. As with any growing industry, many third-party logistics (3PL) businesses identified some growing pains. After a supercharge of the supply chain industry like last year, it is even more important for 3PLs to remain nimble and vigilant with their efforts to meet and fulfill customer needs—especially during the upcoming peak season.
What and When is Peak Season?
Peak season refers to the periods within the year that consumers are most active. With ecommerce on the rise as the post-COVID era erupts, 3PLs warehouses need to prepare for these heightened shipping times. With nearly half of holiday shopping beginning before October, many warehouses begin prepping as early as July for peak season optimization. Like most challenges, preparation is the beginning of success and with the help of the Peak Season Playbook, preparation is well within the grasp of warehouses.
How Can 3PL Warehouses Realize Their Potential?
Many 3PL warehouses were not ready for the boom that COVID-19 would unleash on ecommerce. 3PL warehouses are more important than ever as retailers and direct-to-consumer (DTC) manufacturers move to partner with and outsource fulfillment to them. That is why it is incredibly important to accurately prepare and adopt the necessary steps for the future ahead.
Identify Ways to Improve Operations
A warehouse’s success is based around improving and rotating with trends. As time continues and consumer’s needs change, 3PLs need to change with them. The first step is to conduct a warehouse audit. Given the market and increase in consumer demand, audits should be done frequently to ensure that operations are running efficiently and smoothly.
Audits not only serve as a functional tool to understanding weak and strong points within the system but can also be used as a benchmark for future reports. This data can be extremely valuable in pursuing and understanding the tools necessary to achieve proficiency during peak season.
Understand Ways to Increase Profitability
The key to increasing profitability revolves around a warehouses ability to identify and understand what activities make money. Profitability has become synonymous with the use of predictive analytics and, more specifically, the ways to build a future that forecasts and creates models to better explain possible outcomes.
Detailing future warehouse space and expanding storage needs can be incredible tools to determine if future investments will be needed. Handling and materials, specifically tracking all processes from the warehouse to consumer, can cut unnecessary costs that hinder profitability. Like all aspects of the 21st century, using technology to automate many of these features can be extremely beneficial.
Invest in Technology
Ecommerce growth has been on the rise. As more and more consumers continue to increase the frequency of their online shopping habits, nearly 62% favor online shopping compared to in person, 3PLs need to take advantage of this booming sector. For years 3PLs have pushed innovation but failed to make positive change in the right direction.3PLs have pushed innovation but failed to make positive change in the right direction.
With today’s customer demands, there is little room for error—especially during peak season. For 3PLs warehouses, the goal revolves around creating minimal errors and with the right technology and automation, efficiency becomes reality. With the correct technology and planning, workflows can be improved and create innovative changes.
When thinking of visibility, it is important to remember that without proper automation, technology and tracking, all aspects of warehousing become opaque. Given that the industry excels with proper techniques depends on the amount of visibility. Look for ways to improve visibility and identify possible flaws.
Internal dashboards and customer notifications are effective ways to enhance visibility. Customers value transparency and trust is the backbone to a long history of good communication. Displaying and identifying possible weaknesses in automation can become a powerful tool to fulfill customer expectations. Informed decision making through the use of on-hand data can help prepare for future outcomes.
Enhance the Customer Experience
Peak season is all about enhancing the customer experience. The importance and care that 3PLs provide is why so many companies pursue these fulfillment partners to help drive innovation and growth within their company. Like many customer interactions, a foolproof plan and customer care can help deliver the best experience possible. Customers need to feel important and to be treated as such, especially if long-lasting customers is a primary goal. Be honest with them and allow them to grow and learn with warehouse technology while keeping a close eye on customer relations.
Peak Season in the Post-COVID World Conclusion
With the growth of ecommerce, peak seasons continue to evolve and expand. For your 3PL business to be prepared, remember to prepare early to ensure that there will be no hiccups during these hectic parts of the year. By optimizing warehouse efficiencies, 3PLs will have far greater opportunities for success with customers and during peak shipping seasons.
To be fully prepared, learn more about peak season and how warehouses can plan for the rush while maintaining accuracy and efficiency with our Peak Season Playbook.
Written by Chad Kleiman
Chad Kleiman is a member of the marketing team experienced in various aspects of marketing and the supply chain as he seeks to share his knowledge with the third-party logistics industry at large in an easily digestible format.