Planning for Peak Trading

With just under 20 weeks until the Black Friday shopping bonanza, it is time to review 2015 processes and manage the challenges of Blue Monday. 

Mailbags showing our printing capabilitiesRetailers manipulated buying behaviour to an unprecedented extent, stimulating a lull in demand immediately pre- and post- the November payday, and creating a purchasing peak of monumental proportions. What followed the peak, though, could best be described as a ‘delivery tsunami’. Black Friday was quickly followed by a challenging Blue Monday for the logistics sector, stretching fulfilment and carrier services to the limit.

The pressure was on to deliver vast numbers of online orders in time to meet delivery commitments, impacting carrier and retailer fulfilment operations. While the quiet before the storm was unnerving, the immediate aftermath tested services to the limit and caused backlogs and disruption to ‘normal’ ordering patterns for days – even weeks – afterward.

Like it or not, Black Friday seems here to stay. European consumers have embraced the discount pre-Christmas shopping culture from across the pond. How, then, can we manage the tidal wave of orders? Here are our recommendations to avoid a Blue Monday of logistical issues.

01. Learn Your Lesson

Look at past performance of personnel, processes and systems to ensure that post-peak review findings have been actioned. Don't repeat the same mistakes in 2016.

Automated Packaging Systems’ Productivity Data Screens monitor performance and allow you to review data for the previous jobs.
02. Forewarned is Forearmed

Information engenders confidence. Share insight on customer behaviour, order volumes, performance against fulfilment and delivery commitments, and other key measurables with the entire team.
03. Get Real

Base anticipated demand on accurate data and build in contingency. Whether it’s “orders per day” or “user sessions per hour”, base estimates on historical data, adding a percentage uplift that reflects your revenue targets.

Automation allows you to increase capacity without additional labour.
04. Teams Triumph

Remember to play as a team. Share intelligence and planning with operations, marketing and supply chain. Joined up thinking will help you avoid unexpected demand generated by clever but misaligned marketing activities.

  • When do sales go live? What advance notice are customers given?
  • Are timings, incentive levels and visibility matched to availability and serviceability?
  • Can promotions be structured to manage demand e.g. product specific offers, hourly deals, multi-product purchase incentives.
05. Mend the Roof While the Sun’s Shining

Be in peak condition for the onslaught. Have all routine maintenance complete and supporting systems available and working, with contingency plans in place to cover outages and issues.

Planned maintenance, service and support is key for all fundamental equipment for your operation.
06. Dress Rehearsals?

Test capacity before the tsunami hits. Road test systems and accurately map pinch points in your fulfilment and delivery programs. Model your systems and use the simulation to test them to breaking point so you know your limits, and stay within the boundaries at all costs.

  • Do you understand customer behaviour in peak scenarios? Are you modelling it in your capacity tests?
  • What is the impact of time/product specific marketing initiatives (e.g. hourly deals)?
  • What can hit you from left field? What functional / environmental changes are planned that might derail your program?

Mail Order Fulfilment Specialist:

“Fail to meet delivery commitments and consumers will be reluctant to give you a second go,” warns Duncan Hall. “Retailers recognise that reputations are won and lost during busy periods. But meeting demand is easier said than done, with Black Friday volumes putting pressure on even the most well-resourced businesses.

“The solution is to build flexibility into the heart of your operation. We’ve developed a system that’s easily integrated, incredibly simple to operate and flexible enough to pack a wide range of goods, from clothing, pharmaceuticals, shoes and household goods.”

Duncan Hall
Automated Packaging Systems

To see our most technologically advanced bagging system, visit our Autobag 850S Mail order fulfilment packaging machine page. 

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