The holiday season is a busy, hectic time for businesses of all sizes. Increased channel traffic, order spikes and your retail partners’ challenges can be especially difficult to manage. You’ve got to stay on your toes and keep an eye on your competition. The right strategies can help you stay ahead of the curve so your business can take on holiday pressure with renewed confidence.
Strategy 1: Get your team ready
Your employees are the backbone of your business, and they’ll be on the front line of any holiday challenges that arise. With talent shortages and turnover still persisting in 2023, it’s more important than ever to ensure your team has everything they need to meet seasonal expectations and do their jobs efficiently.
Equip your team with the tools and training they need to streamline order processes, optimize channels and analyze critical data. Establish clear lines of communication between departments so your teams can work together effectively. Consider adding solutions that automate processes, reduce data entry and errors and improve sell-through data to ensure your team has the right inventory to handle the uptick in holiday demand.
Remember that the holidays can be a high-stress time for your employees outside of work, too. Set clear expectations about work priorities and schedules, and then respect boundaries. Have contingencies for sick employees and don’t forget to show your appreciation. When your team members feel confident and valued, they’re more likely to be engaged and productive at work.
Strategy 2: Prepare your partners
Your partners (retailers, 3PLs, warehouses, etc.) are essential to your holiday success, so keep the lines of communication clear and consistent. When your trading partners can’t get accurate data about your orders, it leads to delays, shortages and a compromised customer experience.
Ensure your partners get accurate information while considering their systems and best practices. Consult with all your partners to understand their capabilities and onboarding processes so you can determine the best ways to stay connected during the holidays.
A smooth transfer of data between partners will ensure that your holiday planning and execution can continue without roadblocks. Look for gaps where you can improve visibility and reporting on inventory levels and order status. The more you reduce manual data entry, the fewer errors and compliance violations you’ll see. Those are the last things you want to deal with during the busy holiday season, so look to automate operations where possible.
Strategy 3: Create a plan B
Imagine this: Your product is a hit this holiday season and flies off the shelves. The downside? Your retail partners need more product to meet demand, and your preferred carrier struggles to ship orders on time. What will you do?
It's impossible to plan for every holiday emergency, but a backup plan will help you weather the unexpected. Start by identifying potential shipping and supply risks, then develop contingency plans for each scenario in case something goes wrong.
To identify potential challenges, communicate inventory levels and order status in real time. That way you can flag inventory shortages and shipping delays early in the process. Be ready with alternative vendors and shipping methods if the need arises. Add automation into your communication with customers where possible to keep them informed of disruptions and resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
With a set of contingency plans in place, you minimize the impact of disruptions during the holiday season. The right preparations ensure that you can meet customer expectations and maximize profits.
A successful holiday season starts now
The holiday season is critical, but it doesn’t have to be chaotic and stressful. SPS Commerce can guide you through the holiday rush by providing the tools and expertise you need to prepare your workforce, communicate effectively with your partners, improve visibility into your supply chains and develop and implement contingency plans.
With SPS Commerce, you can be confident that you’re prepared for any challenges that may come your way during the holiday season and beyond. Contact SPS Commerce today to learn more about how our solutions can support your holiday strategies.