The busy season where peak demand for your product can generate healthy revenue is both exciting and very challenging. Demand surges not only influence inventory stock levels and customer service satisfaction, but can also impact your entire supply chain.
Getting the right inventory stock to the right place, in a timely manner is a massive operation. Certain supply chains will experience peak demand during periods of high retail spending over holiday seasons or when fresh produce and locally grown crops are harvested, sorted, shipped and stored within short time-frames.
Going into your high season, being adequately prepared will help alleviate many potential supply chain issues.
Forecast accuracy is critical when managing seasonal demand and online inventory management systems will help to effectively analyse historic seasonal data. Improving your ability to meet perpetual demand fluctuations.
Software also looks for data trends by breaking down averages into smaller increments to identify seasonal spikes. In the case of perishable produce and consumables, online inventory management tools can factor in shelf life and expiry dates.
In many businesses it is not unusual for 80 percent of your sales to come from 20 percent of your inventory stock. A company’s forecast and tracking efforts should be concentrated on those key inventory stock items that reap the greatest profits.
Seasonal employment means that those working in the industry may only be employed for short periods of time. This lack of job security can lead to workers seeking alternative employment and despite the importance of the job, their experience in the supply chain labour pool is lost.
The key to effective supply chain management is preparing for these variations and having processes in place to deal with peaks and troughs. Communicate with staff and prepare them to manage fluctuations. Onboard temporary staff early to ensure adequate training prior to the seasonal surge, ensuring there is sufficient experienced labour available for the supply chain to function effectively.
Provide more permanent employees with refresher courses or cross-training so they can be moved to help manage demand spikes and bottlenecks. Place experienced staff in critical, decision-making roles and have seasonal or less experienced staff support them in less complex positions.
Manual processes can be time consuming and create opportunities for human error. By automating processes using online inventory management tools such as electronic data exchange and barcode scanning, you can manage and track inventory stock movements in real time. Integrating systems ensures optimal supply chain efficiency at each point throughout the supply chain.
Understand the pressures of shipping during seasonal spikes in demand. Build mutually beneficial relationships with carriers and transport providers and forward plan to improve scheduling flexibility.
It is important that inventory stock moves seamlessly through the supply chain to meet demand and maintain customer satisfaction. To avoid disappointing and potentially losing a customer, online inventory management solutions can be employed to expedited freight, manage drop-shipping and to create time-sensitive reliable solutions.
Supply Chain Success
Some small businesses struggle to successfully manage supply chains. An effective supply chain is a collaboration business and service providers with a genuine commitment to partnership and support. By implementing coordinated activities and reliable performance measures, small businesses can drive supply chain success, even in times of peak demand.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.