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Comprehensive Warehouse Checklist for Peak Season Planning

Originally published on September 12, 2023 by Erhan Musaoglu, Updated on September 12, 2023

Peak season is a crucial time for brands, online sellers, fulfillment networks and third-party logistics (3PLs) providers, but it presents as many challenges as it does opportunities. With the right strategies and preparation, warehouse operations can meet high-volume DTC demand efficiently and the industry’s increasingly competitive fulfillment expectations.

The key is planning. In order to have a successful peak season, operations need to use the time leading up to high-volume months to their advantage. In this blog, Logiwa has compiled a comprehensive warehouse checklist to aid in peak season planning and ensure a profitable outcome when the time finally arrives.

Key Takeaways:

  • The cyclical trends that accompany peak season provide a framework for preparing for it.
  • Before peak season arrives, it is crucial that you take the time to prepare your facilities, assess inefficient processes, and upgrade outdated or limited technologies.
  • Using Logiwa’s comprehensive peak season planning checklist, you can ensure that your DTC fulfillment operations run smoothly during high-volume periods.
  • Key areas to prepare for peak season include: warehouse infrastructure, equipment and supplies, software, inventory, labor, shipping, metric tracking, and contingency plans.
  • Logiwa WMS enhances peak season results by optimizing warehouse performance, streamlining order fulfillment, and ensuring visibility and control over high-volume operations.

Peak Season Planning for High-Volume Success

Peak season presents countless challenges for modern ecommerce operations. Fortunately, the cyclical trends that accompany it provide a framework for how to prepare for it. Peak season planning requires you to evaluate each aspect of your business, especially the weak points in your operations.

Before peak season arrives, it is crucial that you take the time to prepare your facilities, assess inefficient processes, and upgrade outdated or limited technologies. Once orders start pouring in, it is too late and risky to disrupt operations. Whether it is the structure of your warehouse, the systems supporting your operations, or the strategies in place for fulfilling orders – it is important to set you and your team up for success as early as possible.

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Peak Season Warehouse Checklist

Preparing your warehouse for the peak season is a multifaceted endeavor that requires careful planning and execution. By following this comprehensive checklist, you can ensure that your DTC fulfillment operations run smoothly during high-volume periods.

Infrastructure and Layout:

Optimize the layout, including putaway methodology, of your warehouse to minimize unnecessary floor traffic and maximize the number of orders that can get processed. This may include moving certain fast-moving product zones closer to packing stations, separating similar looking items to avoid confusion, or creating additional space for damaged goods and returns. 
Determine if you have sufficient rack and storage space for peak season volumes.
Ensure the number and location of packing stations can accommodate peak season spikes in demand.
Conduct a thorough cleaning of your facility, including removing any broken materials and packaging waste that may need disposing of.
Oversee an OSHA-sweep of your distribution center to ensure all identifiable safety hazards are eliminated.

Equipment and Supplies:

Verify the functionality of all warehouse equipment, including conveyor belts, forklifts, stretch wrap machines, and putwall systems.
Check packing stations are fully equipped and related materials are well-stocked. This may include shipping supplies like boxes and bubble wrap, adhesive labels, printer ink and paper, and brand-related materials. 
Order backups for hardware that will result in major delays if failures occur. This may include mobile scanning devices, computers, or printers. 
Prioritize warehouse technology upgrades aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and accuracy, such as barcode scanners, RFID systems, or robotics systems. These help establish stringent quality control processes to catch errors before orders are shipped.

Software Solutions:

Adopt a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) to ensure high levels of visibility, flexibility, and functionality throughout peak season.
Check that your integrations are in-place and seamlessly working with your WMS. This includes connections between your warehouse management solution and ecommerce channels, shipping carriers, ERP and accounting software, and robotics providers.
Set up automation rules to streamline high-efficiency workflows and reduce errors, including for order routing for multi-warehouse operations, receiving operations, picking and packing processes, and carrier selection.
Enable AI-based features like directed putaway to ensure items are always placed in the best possible locations, whether they are being received, transferred, or returned.
Implement an order batching system to optimize picking and packing processes.
Clarify orders based rules around shipping deadlines, order sizes, or customer preferences.
Enable webhook alerts that expedite high-volume fulfillment, optimize inventory and order management, and ensure rapid issue resolution.

Demand Forecasting and Inventory Management

Double-check your inventory management system is synching  stock levels in real-time with a manual inventory count, and plan to continue cyclical counts at specific points during peak season.
Analyze historical data to predict peak season demand and maintain appropriate inventory levels, especially if you have access to a BI or analytics tool.
Collaborate with your sales and marketing teams, or clients if you are a 3PL, to understand upcoming promotions that may affect order volumes, bundling trends, and replenishment needs during peak season.
Overstock key items to prevent stockouts and maintain customer satisfaction.

Labor Planning:

Evaluate your current staffing needs and hire temporary employees for peak season if need be.
Provide comprehensive training to ensure all team members are well-versed in peak season procedures.
Cross-train employees to handle multiple tasks and minimize bottlenecks.
Establish clear communication channels to ensure smooth coordination among team members.
Consider taking on additional robots if you are using RaaS to manage peak season demand.

Shipping and Delivery:

Integrate with reliable shipping carriers to ensure favorable rates for peak season and safeguard on-time deliveries.
Automate customer carrier preferences, packaging procedures, and rate-shopping to maintain consistency, reduce errors, and manage costs.
Offer multiple shipping options to accommodate various customer needs.
Opt for sustainable packaging options to align with customer preferences and environmental values.
Set up a system for tracking and monitoring shipments in real-time to provide accurate delivery updates to customers.

Performance Metrics and Analysis:

Use demand forecasting features to stay ahead of demand and fluctuations impacting day-to-day tasks like picking or replenishment functions.
Define key performance indicators (KPIs) for peak season success, such as order processing time and accuracy rates to help your team stay on track.
Regularly monitor and analyze KPIs to identify areas for improvement and make real-time adjustments.
If you oversee fulfillment for multiple clients, ensure each brand or seller’s customer portals are set up to prioritize the data visibility and reporting that affects them the most.

Contingency Planning:

Develop a contingency plan for potential disruptions, such as natural disasters or supply chain issues.
Establish backup suppliers for critical items to avoid stockouts, as well as distributors, shippers, etc. in case supply chain disruptions arise.
Formulate a communication plan to keep clients and customers informed in case of delays.
Conduct a thorough review of your previous peak seasons, analyzing what worked well and what can be improved for enhanced performance.

Tackle Peak Season Planning with Logiwa WMS

Peak season necessitates planning on every level. With the right strategies and technologies in place, your business can thrive during this time and deliver exceptional experiences to customers. Having a fulfillment system that optimizes warehouse performance, streamlines order fulfillment, and ensures visibility and control makes it even easier.  Logiwa WMS has helped countless warehouse operations scale their peak season results.

Logiwa’s cloud-based fulfillment platform was built with the challenges of high-volume DTC fulfillment in mind, utilizing smart automation, seamless integrations, and highly configurable order management features to help businesses surpass their goals year-round.  For more insights on how Logiwa can elevate your peak season performance, check out our blog, “Logiwa is Ready for Ecommerce Peak Season… Is Your Warehouse?” or download our Driving Impactful Peak Season Results ebook.

FAQs Related to “Peak Season Warehouse Operations”

What is peak season?

Peak season is the time of year when consumer demand spikes and fulfillment networks experience higher order volumes. It is a period where businesses managing supply chains, warehouses, and fulfillment operations face increased market pressures and logistical challenges.

What are peak season warehouse operations?

Peak season warehouse operations are those processing high-volume demand stemming from seasonal spikes in in-person and online shopping. If operating efficiently, they process more orders and deliver increased throughput as a result of streamlined fulfillment processes.

Why is peak season planning important?

Without peak season planning, warehouses and fulfillment networks are unable to process the high order volumes brought on by heightened consumer demand. This results in stock shortages, late deliveries, supply chain issues, profit losses, reputational damage, and stunted growth.

What are the key areas to focus on for peak season planning?

Warehouse planning for peak season should include: warehouse layouts and infrastructure, facility equipment and supplies, software solutions, various aspects of inventory management, labor planning, demand forecasting, shipping operations, metric tracking, and contingency plans.

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