The busiest time for the majority of retailers is the end of the year - when the buzz of Black Friday is followed immediately by the Christmas rush.
Just as you’re trying to recover from the manic bargain-hunting of November’s annual mega-sale event, you realise you have to survive Christmas too!
A lot of people are starting their Christmas shopping as early as October, in an effort to get ahead before the festive rush. This means that retailers must be ahead of the game too, so they don’t lose trade to rivals who may be more on the ball.
Festive spending habits
According to a recent study by Empathy Broker, more than half of British shoppers are planning to buy at least some of their festive purchases online, with 51% saying they prefer it to the high street. Major brands, such as John Lewis, Boohoo and Next, enjoyed an increase in online sales in the run-up to Christmas last year.
Consumers across the UK spend around £19 billion on Christmas presents alone! A study by the Bank of England has revealed UK shoppers spend 116% more money on music and DVDs at Christmas than at any other time of year.
We also spend an additional 85% on books, 68% more on computers, an extra 56% on toiletries, 43% more on clothing and 39% more on alcohol. We will consume 308 million slices of turkey, 205 million portions of Christmas pud or cake and drink 205 million glasses of bubbly! On average, we spend an extra 20% on festive foods.
This is an excellent opportunity for online retailers to make some big sales, as consumers opt for the convenience of shopping from the comfort of their home, but the high demand at Christmas can also put a strain on your business’s resources, in terms of employees, stock and your delivering capabilities.
Customers can be particularly demanding when bitten by the Christmas shopping bug and the online market becomes increasingly competitive. People expect a wide choice of options to fit in around their busy life: free deliveries and options to order late, but still receive next-day delivery!
So just how can you prepare your business for the high demand at Christmas? The answer is to follow some simple tips, so you can benefit from the increased demand, rather than feeling overwhelmed by it. The key to being prepared lies in organising your warehouse ahead of the festive rush.
Ensure employees have the essential packing materials at their fingertips. You may wish to consider automating some simple tasks, such as using machine tape dispensers that you can pre-set to cut a specific length of sticky tape. Use overhead hoppers to automatically release packing materials, such as ready-to-use air cushions, as this can greatly increase your packing times.
Pallet trucks and trolleys
At a time when you are working at maximum capacity it is vital to ensure that your hand pallet trucks are in good working order, do they need servicing or perhaps you may need to buy or hire extra units for the festive season?
Pick trolleys can help you to move products and packaging around the warehouse efficiently. This will maximise productivity, even at peak times.
This is particularly important if you take on extra temporary staff to cover the Christmas rush. Employing new staff, but not training them properly, can be counter-productive.
Give everyone clear instructions regarding the warehouse and packaging processes. Make sure your team is comfortable with using the equipment within the warehouse – and that they are familiar with safety procedures.
Don’t let your warehouse get untidy due to waste accumulating at busy periods. Introduce rack sacks and packing station sacks to enable the easy separation and disposal of warehouse refuse. This keeps the work areas tidy and makes recycling easier for employees.
Attach the sacks to racking or workstations, saving space while meeting all your waste segregation needs.
It may seem like an odd suggestion when your team is working through one of the busiest periods of the year, but don’t forget to have fun in the workplace! Too much stress can impact on employees’ health and ultimately their productivity.