Peak season is rapidly approaching once again and always seems to overwhelm supply chains. The upcoming peak season will probably set an all-new bar for future peak seasons to come, especially during uncertainty and the onset of the global pandemic. And ensuring an omnichannel experience for suppliers, businesses, and consumers is paramount for a successful peak season. A seamless, blended, and omnichannel strategy will undoubtedly improve all areas of the supply chain and create lasting impressions for future peak seasons to come. So let’s look at five peak season tips and how they can enable just-in-time fulfillment.
The go-to way to create a more omnichannel experience is using an application program interface (API) to bring all systems together. An API is convenient for businesses to be able to connect their programs and have them communicate simultaneously. Connecting systems via an API streamlines the process by linking data within the digital environment. Therefore, individual systems may assist the omnichannel customer experience and reduce discrepancies from one platform to another. Access to real-time data and verifiable insights throughout each part of the software is essential, especially for a seamless peak season this year. With just-in-time (JIT) fulfillment, failure to share data in real-time will inevitably lead to missed deliveries or other potential issues.
Communication is the key to any effective business. Peak season increases this urgency to be more effective. According to Supply Chain Brain, “Companies leveraging a centralized system can quickly become more lean and efficient as the decisions are being made at a corporate level that then spread throughout the organization. Decision-makers within the organization can pursue strategic opportunities, such as carrier management, and leverage the entire network through centralized controls because the communication occurs at a higher level within the company, its customers, and the carrier network. This allows organizations to promptly and efficiently enact change that will positively affect their businesses.”
Overall, missed communications mean more opportunities to cut profits. In particular, the omnichannel experience depends on efficient communication throughout the company.
One part of the omnichannel experience is the use and application of freight data. Peak season cannot happen without freight data and forecasting. Managing freight transportation properly is required to keep up with peak season demands and demands all year round. Utilizing freight data to know the real-time arrival updates allows for businesses to prepare for incoming shipments. The ability to look to the freight data will also enable merchants to answer questions better, such as when and what product is coming. Together, informed decision making provides a consistent business plan for companies and their customers.
Another way to maximize the omnichannel experience this peak season is to leverage cross-docking. According to The Balance Small Business, “Cross-docking solutions allow companies to expedite shipments to customers, which means that customers often get what they want when they want it — the goal of an optimized supply chain.” Cross-docking helps the omnichannel experience by eliminating the middleman, decreases the need to store products in the warehouse or storefront, and keeps labor costs low. That saves money on freight, shipping, and carrying costs.
Another way to optimize the omnichannel experience is by applying dropshipping. Dropshipping allows consumers to order their product from their favorite online platform while receiving their purchases directly from the manufacturer. By utilizing this piece of the omnichannel platform, companies reduce costs by eliminating extra transportation. Dropshipping also allows stores to maximize the shelf space while also enabling that portion of the market. Some stores may not have a more extensive selection in person. Dropshipping will help shippers present more to their demographic, all while keeping less in-store and retaining customers.
The last piece to the omnichannel experience is the in-person aspect. Although more people are shopping online, e-commerce does not eliminate the in-person experience. The best way to boost customers ‘ personal experiences, especially during a pandemic, is to offer more convenience options. Allowing for curbside pickup or warehouse pickup opens the door for customers to pick up their product on their own time and keeps them safe as well—all while improving business efficiency and centralizing supply chain management. More omnichannel options for JIT order fulfillment will be paramount to sustaining in-person business practices this peak season. All these practices will create a better and more efficient JIT fulfillment and a better peak season.
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