What does it take to improve supply chain processes? That is a loaded question. Increased order fulfillment, improved customer satisfaction, validating order details and contents before packaging, automating repetitive processes, and other factors can significantly improve supply chain processes. However, it is not enough to choose a random method and improve it. Supply chain leaders need to approach the issue from a holistic perspective. Supply chain leaders are better positioned to reach stated goals once they gain an understanding of the common weaknesses highlighted in peak season supply chain processes and the role of an advanced WMS to improve any uncovered weaknesses.
The Supply Chain Trends to Know in 2020
Common Weaknesses in Peak Season Supply Chain Processes
The challenges and weaknesses associated with peak season supply chain processes are vast. Vulnerabilities may reside within outdated systems, a lack of access to data, reduced use of available data, basing assumptions on false beliefs, lack of communication, and more. Consider these additional problems that will exploit weaknesses within the peak season supply chain:
- Higher demand accompanies the peak season. Higher than usual demand can lead to bottlenecks and other problems, revealing the significant issues associated with current performance.
- Customers have a higher expectation for faster, lower-cost shipping. While customers always have hope for low-cost shipping, their concerns and demands are amplified throughout the peak season. As a result, shippers and supply chain leaders must work diligently to ensure their needs are met.
- Lack of available capacity, carriers, resources, and inventory. The right inventory management strategy will make or break successful inventory management for the coming quarter. Instead of blindly ordering products based on assumptions from data in July, a period for which most organizations begin planning supply chain peak season operations, supply chain leaders need to think about the whole picture. They need to understand the present state of the market and not rely on last’s quarter’s estimates. In addition, leaders need to be forward-thinking in predicting what may occur, and how those factors will influence purchasing decisions.
- Uncertainty regarding policies that affect international trade. In fact, as reported by Logistics Management, Chris Rogers (Panjiva Research Director) shared his thoughts on policy uncertainty and peak season, “On one hand, Peak Season will be earlier than normal,” he said, ” and on the other hand, it remains to be seen if companies will play chicken with President Trump and maybe consumers pay the price.” Rogers goes on to say, “It is important for logistics services providers, freight forwarders, and ocean cargo carriers…to be ready for an early Peak Season, but it may be one that does not come. This really cannot come at a worse time for the container lines that are struggling with profitability and are talking about cutting routes and making potential alliances. This uncertainty is not going to help.” The point Rogers is making is that there is always uncertainty that exists beyond a supply chain leader’s control. Uncertainties can lie in government policies, market forces, or even natural disasters. Leaders must bake in the unknown, also known as the supply chain “Black Swan” into any peak season supply chain planning.
An Advanced WMS Is Critical to Effective, Efficient Supply Chain Processes
An advanced WMS is the foundation of effective, efficient peak season processes. Through an advanced WMS, supply chain leaders can unlock new insights, understand their existing operations, find solutions to problems, and secure more resources. Moreover, many advanced warehouse management systems reside in the cloud, providing advantages for deployment across multiple locations and real-time visibility to vital supply chain processes.
How to Use a New WMS to Improve Peak Season Operations
Supply chain leaders should follow these fundamental tips to improve warehouse and supply chain performance through peak season.
- Validate all carrier-shipper relationships.
- Revisit training with permanent and temporary staff members.
- Allocate responsibilities to staff appropriately.
- Think about the expanded capacity options during peak season.
- Take advantage of third-party services.
- Eliminate batched orders, opting for waveless picking strategies.
- Track maintenance; give all equipment a tune-up.
- Use the WMS to manage cross-docking and deconsolidation programs.
- Automate exception management.
- Get supply chain partners on the same page via integrated systems.
Achieve Your Supply Chain’s Goals With the Right Supply Chain Partner
Achieving success through supply chain processes throughout the peak season is possible. Still, it comes at the cost of taking a serious inventory of current solutions, platforms, and opportunities for improvement. As a result, shippers and supply chain leaders should start thinking about evaluating their warehousing and distribution strategies, focusing on the WMS as the system of choice and the most exceptional opportunity for improvement.