Holiday Season Planning is Vital for Shutterfly

Maximizing profits during the holiday season requires a lot of planning and the type of insight that generally only comes from experience. Whether you need to train a surge of temporary workers or ensure that all of your equipment is running smoothly, there is no shortage of things to do as the year draws to a close.

This is particularly true for Shutterfly. The site turns people’s personal photos into holiday cards, books and other gifts, and it’s extremely popular in the run-up to Christmas. In fact, more than half of the company’s revenue comes in during the fourth quarter.

Shutterfly’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Dwayne Black, recently sat down with USPS Delivers to share some of his best tips for handling holiday challenges. He said that when he first started with the company a decade ago, Q4 planning started in June. Now, he says, it’s a year-long activity, and once the holidays pass, they head straight into evaluation mode and start planning for the holiday season in the year to come.

Getting All the Pieces in Place

The company ensures all of its equipment is installed and tested before October; they do not amend their website or workflow after that point. They also add around 3,000 temporary workers to their workforce in Q4.

Pre-packaging is not possible given the custom nature of Shutterfly’s products, so they instead focus on ensuring their processes are absolutely perfect, from making sure technicians are on hand to deal with problems swiftly to having backup plans in place to keep processes moving even if equipment fails.

Black adopts a “Five P” philosophy, which stands for “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” The firm emphasizes the importance of communication and keeping everyone on the same page, whether it’s within manufacturing facilities or among the teams that work on promotions, engineering, or even the website itself. Each department has a dedicated communicator for this purpose.

They also use a visual factory in their locations when it comes to supplies and raw materials so that determining low inventory is made easier, and they aim to provide their carriers with forecasts three or four months ahead of the holiday season so they can build their internal platform.

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