Are you feeling festive yet? Christmas is the most important time of the year for many retailers, and can mean smashing sales targets or struggling long into the next year. Increased demand and adverse weather conditions make it tricky to get right – so planning ahead is vital.

Last year retailers struggled to cope with record levels of consumer demand. Deliveries took on average five days to arrive, up from 3.6 the previous year. If you want to do better this time around, here are four steps towards effectively planning your logistics for the Christmas period.

Build good relationships

First of all, you’ll want to establish a series of positive working relationships throughout your supply chain with key contacts you can rely on. Christmas is a busy and stressful time with tight deadlines, and it’s these people that can help pull you through.

You may want to bring in additional resources to cope with the increase in orders. Practice open communication and data sharing at every point in the funnel.

Stock up

Next up is your stock. If you haven’t done already, you’ll want to assess market trends, factor in any marketing promotions you have planned and review your sales forecasts. Use this information to assess how much stock you need to have available and how much storage space you’ll need for it too.

Christmas is only getting longer, with many businesses now starting promotions in September. You may need to factor in replenishments along the way.

Nail down your delivery

The likes of Amazon have changed consumer expectations around delivery forever. Your online experience needs to be seamless, and offering different shipping services can also help you stand out from your competition.

Many of us still leave our Christmas shopping until the last minute, so partner with a courier you can trust to deliver right up until the big day. DHL offers free tracking on all services, among many other perks.

Establish a robust returns process

Just as your orders go up, your returns are likely to increase too. It’s a good idea to have a robust system in place to manage and process returns quickly so that you can get your extra stock back available for sale.

Your customers won’t expect any drop off in service, so it’s important to avoid providing a bad experience that could put them off for good.

 

Are your logistics keeping you up at night? Follow these four steps for a smooth transition into the new year.

About the Author:

Rupesh Singh is freelance writer and founder of moneyoutline.com You can follow him on  Facebook.