Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
It’s kind of the name of the game this time of year. If you shopped online for Black Friday deals with two-day shipping, you’ve probably got packages arriving today. It’s also Cyber Monday (which has basically turned into Black Friday with a different name if you’re an online shopper). And supply chain is the thing that makes these online deals possible. When you order online, supply chain is what gets the goods to your door. Or to the store for you to pick up. Or to the store for you to buy in person.
With the exponential rise in online shopping, pushed largely by Amazon, many people are skipping in-store Black Friday shopping and going straight for the online deals. And supply chain has to deal with all the extra ordering.
Extra stress on the system means that you have to be flexible and always-on, but knowing that you have a set date for and influx means that you can pre-prepare to set your supply chain up for success.
What do supply chains that survived and thrived on the Black Friday sales weekend look like?
Supply Line Visibility
Whether your goods are still being manufactured, in transit, or they are already in your DCs/stores, you need to know where your goods are. You can’t ship or manufacturing that you can’t find.
Fulfillment Process Readiness
Do you need more people to cover the flex? Are your tools (machines) up and ready? Do you have enough physical space for the goods you’re trying to move? Have you checked that each channel in your omnichannel fulfillment process ready? Omnichannel fulfillment can also alleviate supply stress by allowing orders to be fulfilled through whichever channel has the most goods available.
3PLs like UPS and FedEx will be strained this weekend (and pretty much every week leading up to Christmas). While they are also adding capacity, are you ready for any back-ups or problems that they may have? Customers will be asking you, not them. Make sure you have realistic delivery commitments that are agreed upon by your 3PL. 3PLs will often add value-added services (like kitting and packaging) during this time, so make sure you take advantage of them.
For the 2018 Prime Day that Amazon put on, they had a system crash and it was a big deal. Nobody could get on to buy product and it frustrated a lot of customers. Make sure that your system is ready for the heavy load that is coming, especially during times that have been advertised as having a great deal.
Cross-training and Cross-docking
If you cross-train your people, they’re able to jump into whatever role might be needed the most and can save you when you’re hitting a pinch point. Also, take care of your people. If you treat them poorly to push your supply chain and then lose them, you’re only going to be worse off – plus, it’s just basic human decency.