Supply Chain Oversight is Key Component of Planning for 2014 Holiday Season

bigstock_Downtown_Charlotte_NC_skyline_19600988Deciding on the right products and right quantities of the same is only one component of the planning required for small businesses to have a successful 2014 holiday season.  Just because you have chosen the products you want on store shelves in October, November, and December doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else in your supply chain is on board.

That requires oversight on your part.

When was the last time you took an inventory of your supply chain?  And when was the last time you actually talked with these critical partners?

In reality, you should be talking to each of them frequently throughout the year but in particular as you prepare for the 2014 holiday season.  It is the only way to make sure your needs are understood, your goods are manufactured, your containers shipped, and your merchandise stored and distributed per your specifications.

Let’s take a look at the typical supply chain and ponder some of the questions to consider at each step:

  • General manufacturer:  Whether domestic or international, make sure their facility is ready for your production orders.  Do they have the capacity to meet your order quantities and deadline dates for shipment?  Do they have all the necessary product components for fulfilling your orders?  Are they aware of any changes to product manufacturing specifications?
  • Specific Product Component Suppliers:  Regardless of the general manufacturer’s readiness, it will be for naught if any of the product component suppliers cannot provide those parts to your manufacturer.  Are there any issues with raw materials?  Are there any anticipated production delays?
  • Overseas Shipper:  Is your shipper aware of your upcoming shipping needs for the holiday season?  Do they have capacity on their ships for your containers?  And if they typically bring your goods in through the west coast, do they have a contingency plan in place if the negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association result in a west coast port strike.  CNBC warns that “over half of the freight moving into and out of the U.S. goes through the West Coast.  If that traffic stops, then assembly lines halt and retailer shelves go empty.”  Make sure your overseas shipper is preparing alternate shipping routes and if possible is planning to bring your goods in via the east coast to avoid this impending debacle.
  • Domestic Truck and Rail Shippers:  Is your domestic shipper ready and available to get your incoming port shipments from their entry point into the U.S. to your warehouse?
  • Long-term Warehouse Provider:  If you already use a warehouse provider to secure, store and distribute your products, have you discussed your capacity needs for the 2014 holiday season with them?  This is particularly bigstockphoto_Busy_Warehouse_2387126important if you envision a significant increase in inventory and sales over last year.  Unless you inform your warehouse provider of this growth, they may not be able to ensure the space you require.
  • Short-term Warehouse Provider:  If you typically store your products in your own warehouse but need excess capacity during the holiday season, now is the time to secure the space you will need to meet your sales goals.

Here at Distribution Direct, our recent move into a 180,000 square foot warehouse should ensure adequate room for growth for all our clients during the 2014 holiday season.  To discuss your specific warehouse needs for the upcoming season, contact us today.