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Warehouse Management Challenges: How to Manage Peak Season Like a Pro

Warehouse Management Challenges: How to Manage Peak Season Like a Pro

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Warehouse Management Challenges: How to Manage Peak Season Like a Pro

Sep 29, 2022

Shannon Sickmon
Clean warehouse full of boxes

Peak season is coming, and if you're a consumer goods importer or distributor trying to prepare, you know that the stakes are high and the environment is chaotic. Deadlines are looming; you must power through because peak season is where you make a large portion of your profits.

Managing a warehouse is always strenuous. But, during peak season, you’ll work endless hours in the warehouse, sometimes with staff working 24 hours a day. However, if your warehouse team can pick and pack orders efficiently, handling the busy season should go smoothly.

Did you know that when it comes to oncoming inventory, human error is the top issue in 46% of warehouses? Without the right tools, you could drown in a sea of paperwork, excess inventory and, not to mention, human error.

The fulfillment cycle keeps getting compressed due to “The Amazon Effect” with expedited delivery times the norm, even for B2B distributors. And during your busy season, your clients want their deliveries on time, at cost and with no issues. Your customers could care less about global supply chain issues—they still expect their orders, so it’s on you to manage long lead times and plan inventory accordingly.

For distributors, the biggest warehouse management challenges during peak season are inventory demand planning and optimized warehouse operations. Conquering these challenges means the difference between a successful, profitable peak season and a problematic one. So, what’s the secret?

It’s simple, really—you just need the right tools. Read on to discover how you can manage peak season warehouse management challenges like a pro.

The Challenge: Inventory Management and Planning

One of the most crucial inventory management challenges is accurate demand planning. Inventory demand planning is a balancing act. You need to have the right products at the right time to meet skyrocketing demand during peak season.

Right now, long import lead times have made this process even more difficult even though this is simply part of the cost of doing business for importers and distributors. If you want to get ahead of the peak season, you cannot rely on guesswork from manual processes, cumbersome spreadsheets and third-party add-ons.

34% of businesses ship late because they sell products that they don’t have in stock. Don’t let that happen to you—leverage the automated tools found in an industry-specific, distribution ERP for more accurate demand planning including distribution resource planning (DRP) which integrates point-of-sale (POS) data, customer forecasts, historical sales trends, seasonality and supplier lead times to help you optimize purchasing decisions.

Aptean Distribution ERP also includes time-phased tools to help improve forecasting accuracy, which is essential to meet retailer on-time, in-full (OTIF) requirements. Using this data, the exact lead times for each product become more accurate. You can pinpoint when the reorder point should be and how much of each product you should order. This allows you to create accurate forecasts and successfully plan your inventory.

This insight is invaluable when planning for your peak operating periods. You cannot afford to make errors in forecasting and distribution, because it could mean you don’t have the right product mix available at the right time to ship to your retailers. This puts your profits at risk; and also threatens your reputation and long-term retailer relationships.

Our ERP for consumer goods importers and distributors provides a rule-based environment that automatically identifies and alerts you to any issues based on exceptions to criteria that you define. It offers maximum efficiency and control to purchase from multiple suppliers while also managing inventory across multiple warehouses.

You’ll minimize inventory carrying costs and reduce stock-out situations. Full visibility throughout the supply chain can help you respond quickly to changing market conditions and keep retailers satisfied and profitability high.

The Challenge: Optimize Warehouse Processes

When you are preparing for peak season, you might want to think about how to make the most of your warehouse space first. Is your warehouse configured in the most efficient layout to facilitate storage? Can your staff move around the building without difficulty? Is there easy access into and out of the building? Even if your setup is sufficient, it’s still a good time to look around and address any possible operational challenges.

You want a warehouse floor setup where the most popular items are closest to your shipping and receiving areas. Map it out and include the direction of the workflow. If you have a variety of products, you may want to organize them by the cluster method, which groups by type.

Make good use of vertical space because stacking products will maximize limited space. If you plan on using a forklift, your aisles need to be at least twelve feet wide. Dedicate plenty of space near the loading docks to prevent bottlenecking. If you have the space, separate the picking area from the storage area, as it will reduce the amount of time your team spends looking for items.

Here are a few ways that a distribution ERP with built-in WMS capabilities can help you improve warehouse operations.

  • Rapid warehouse replenishment. Aptean Distribution ERP allows you to set alerts to trigger replenishment activities for the day. You can set it up so that your team can load pallets during slow times, so you won’t have to scramble to replenish pallets at your busy times of day. The system automatically recognizes when you are running low and will alert you when it’s time to move another pallet to the primary pick location.

  • Faster picking and packing processes. With real-time visibility, your team will always know where every item is, and will automatically update the inventory as items get pulled. Then, your packing team can easily print the labels they need to stay compliant and put them on the proper packaging.

  • Better receiving processes. At the receiving dock, your team needs to check that you receive what you ordered. With a WMS, you can scan the items, check them against the order and then instantly print the labels you need.

  • Efficient returns management. Returns are an unfortunate side effect of running a distribution business, and during peak season, they are going to be coming in fast. Rather than letting the return process slow you down, use the tools in your WMS to manage the returns process. The returned items can quickly be classified as reusable or damaged, and reusable items can be relocated for picking later. Your team records any damages into the ERP so that the service team can issue credits or send a replacement.

You can take productivity to the next level by leveraging a distribution ERP with built-in WMS. These two powerful software tools packaged in one solution will give you streamlined processes across your business, greater warehouse efficiency and full visibility throughout the order fulfillment and returns process.

The Solution Is Here

Consumer goods distributors face unique challenges. They occupy the niche between manufacturing and retail, so they can feel the impact of shifts in both industries. Distributors everywhere are dealing with the rising cost of transportation, impossibly long lead times and worker shortages.

Therefore, it’s imperative that distribution companies adopt warehouse and inventory management tools like those in Aptean Distribution ERP. Inventory management has become more nuanced and more complex as the supply chain has become global. And during peak season, when the stakes are high and deadlines are tight, you must have the right tools and processes in place to avoid being derailed by the inevitable seasonal delays and shortages.

Aptean Distribution ERP was designed by industry experts to connect your teams, make your supply chain more efficient and ultimately increase your profits—during both peak season and throughout the year. Find out how, now.

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