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Preparing the DC for Peak Season

No matter how much you prepare, peak season is always difficult. David Landau of Manhattan Associates offers tips to manage the crunch.

(Boonton, NJ, September 4, 2014) — The 2013 holiday rush was marked by bad weather, delayed shipments and disappointed consumers. How can you avoid a repeat this year?

David Landau, vice president of product management at Manhattan Associates, says there are steps to take now to smooth out the rough days of December. Among them:

Get out from behind your desk. Manhattan Associates’ research finds many managers and supervisors spend 60 percent or more of their time behind their desks.

Landau suggests investing in a mobile labor management system that lets you track production from a tablet. “This lets me go out on the floor to my poor performers and either coach them up or coach them out,” he says.

Plan for your staffing needs. How many shifts do you plan to run during peak season? How many temps will you hire, and what sort of tasks will you allow them to handle? It’s best to answer staffing questions early. If you aim to keep your workers happy, you should also think about some sort of incentive plan that pays bonuses for workers who thrive during a difficult time.

Make your inventory omni-channel. For a handful of huge retailers, it makes perfect sense to divide inventory into one stream for store replenishment and another for e-commerce fulfillment. Everyone else would be wise to tear down the walls separating types of inventory.

No matter how much you prepare, peak season is always difficult. “It’s a high-stress time in the warehouse,” Landau says. But DCs face an added incentive to avoid the mistakes of 2013 — consumers are using social media to shame companies that don’t execute.

“If you do make a mistake and have a bad shipment,” Landau says, “it’s going to be all over Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.”

More on preparing for peak, moving from reactive to proactive management, and implementing a VNA layout, appear in the September issue of Distribution Center Management.

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