It’s pretty obvious, at Christmas, the pressure is on for logistics companies from around the world. These supply chain businesses must perform and deliver to the best of their ability, ensuring that families are able to enjoy everything from delicious Christmas food to special presents under the tree in time for the big day. “Alongside the cost impact, retailers and their logistics partners must also consider the potential reputational damage if they get deliveries wrong. The strain on delivery networks last year was felt by many, and some major retailers even missed Christmas forecasts, due to a combination of sheer demand and adverse weather”, states Digital Marketing Magazine.
At Christmas, the amount of data needed to navigate a broad range of demands and deliveries successfully is excessive, to say the least. Logistics software company CartonCloud offers its customers a sophisticated, yet easy to use application for logistics companies to handle all of their Christmas data challenges better. Making sure your company has access to key data prior, during, and after Christmas, allows you to gauge and better predict challenges and trends, giving you a better understanding of how to prepare your staff, suppliers, products and customers for the best possible outcome. Relex Solutions states, “The ultimate step in any continuous and successful Christmas process should be the evaluation stage. This means going through all the problems that cropped up, identifying the causes and understanding them, building a solution, documenting it for next Christmas, and, most importantly, putting that solution into practice!”
Online shoppers, shortage of drivers
The number of online shoppers are increasing every year, putting greater strain on global supply chain infrastructure. One reason logistics companies can’t keep up with online demands is due to a shortage of truck drivers, as demands for goods are now so significant logistics companies are struggling to keep up. The logistics industry must address this issue and adapt the ways in which they are operating to serve their online customers better. Many in the industry argue there is a shortage of truck drivers due to poor wages and long hours. Another argument is the fact that female drivers aren’t encouraged to sign up, and instead face much ridicule when looking to enter the male-dominated truck driving industry. According to The Supply Chain Consulting Group, “Companies are now more than ever having to adapt the way they manage their supply chain in order to meet consumer demand during peak periods. The development of the online market over the last ten years has brought with it many challenges for logistics infrastructure. Consumers are demanding goods and services at their complete convenience. The importance of efficiency in logistics operations is enhanced over the festive period, especially days such as Black Friday in the run-up to Christmas.”
One of the biggest reasons logistics companies suffer during the silly season is the fact that not enough operators take into account the necessity of planning and having crucial team meetings prior to the all intense Christmas period, where consumers go wild and expect nothing but the best services. There is much evidence to suggest that proper planning is the number one way to avoid holiday mishaps. A simple way to ensure nothing goes wrong on your runs is proper communication and regular team meetings. All team meetings should include procurement, supply chain, sales, and even marketing and any other department that needs to have a say at the logistics tables. Your entire Christmas operations need careful, well-thought-out, and strategic planning, well in advance of the season. According to Inbound Logistics, “The ghost of these Christmases past has haunted supply chain professionals into accepting pre- and contingency planning as a way of life during the peak season. The industry as a whole is making a conscious move toward employing proactive strategies and technologies to overcome capacity challenges and achieve the velocity needed for holiday season success.”
Beyond the above-mentioned concerns for supply chain businesses are a few more additional concerns when coming into the holiday periods. According to a study put together by American Express, “Today, port congestion is growing worldwide, as an increase in container traffic over the past year and ongoing consolidation in the shipping industry compound other problems such as inefficient transfer to inland transportation, customs delays, and episodic weather- and labor-related slowdowns.” It’s clear that major ports around the world are suffering due to the vast amounts of containers moving in and out of the ports during the year. Naturally, the influx of cargo-only increases in number during Christmas time, making life more challenging for a number of vendors and customers alike. The World Trade Organization is doing it’s level best to ensure that the future of shipping is sustainable and less congested, yet the industry will still need time to evolve, as infrastructure and organizations as complex as those involved in global shipping are complex in nature and won’t change overnight.
In truth, the world’s rapid population growth means there is far more demand for goods and services, especially during peak holiday times. The only way businesses will be able to survive the pressure is by ensuring they continue to evolve their logistics and warehouse management systems and integrate new technologies that are capable of dealing with important data and the extraordinary volumes of products and goods needed around the globe. Inbound Logistics states, “Parents won’t score any points telling their children they aren’t getting this year’s must-have holiday gift because of aging U.S. infrastructure, port congestion, a lack of truckload capacity, and faulty demand planning. Likewise, vendors don’t stand much chance using these excuses with retailers.” From proper data management and crucial pre-Christmas team meetings to the impact of online shopping, a number of Christmas logistical woes can be avoided. Inbound Logistics states, “All retailers and vendors want for Christmas is supply chain success. Using logistics technology, savvy shipping strategies, and better planning, many will get their wish.”
By Jasper P Miller