How to Optimize the Supply Chain During the Holiday Season

Being on time is one of the main considerations during the holidays. While Santa is preparing to circumnavigate the globe to provide gifts to all the children by Christmas morning, retailers and manufacturers are concerned with making plans to meet escalating demands for punctual deliveries in the lead up to Christmas day.

While Santa can rely on magic and the support of his elves, businesses must look into finding earthly ways to make plans and preparations for the supply chain so that performance is optimal. The closest thing these businesses have to magic is analytics technology, which helps managers of supply chains to cope with the surges of orders and demand for deliveries at this special time of year.

For some companies, in industries like toy manufacturing, the period from the first of November to the first of December provides 50 percent of revenue, and this also means that there is parallel growth in shipping volume. The National Retail Federation has released data that suggests that retail sales will grow by 3.7 percent during November and December, which equates to $631 billion.

In the shipping industry, delivering on time is everything. The shelves of retailers are a battleground, and just one late delivery could mean that a high percentage of revenue is lost. An example of how this could play out is when a big shipment is meant to arrive in time for Christmas, but actually arrives four days after, not only is there losses in terms of shelf space, but a significant mark down after the holidays in order to get the products sold. This means a big hit to the bottom line at the most important time of year.

A lot of companies are focusing on the use of technology in order to forecast demand. However, there are a number of other sectors of the business that can find value in advanced analytical technology. For example, shipments can be tracked and real-time alerts issued to managers of the supply chain as soon as any problems arise so that the supply chain can be optimized. This may include making plans to get over challenges that occur in areas such as cross-docking, managing inventory and delivering on time. Predictive analytics give shippers the power to meet and exceed expectations during the holiday season.

However, even the most powerful software and analytics in the world can’t compete with Santa and his elves.