How Brands and Retailers Can Mitigate the Impact of an Earlier Peak Season

4 min read
January 27, 2023

Why is there an earlier peak season?

After two years of supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and other global crises, shippers are hoping to avoid delays by beginning peak season early. However, this shift in timing is already creating chaos for ports and spreading across other areas of the supply chain. Warehouses are at capacity, while trucking businesses and railways are short staffed and have minimal equipment. Moreover, container yards and ports are packed with thousands of boxes. In Long Beach, California, one of the United States’s busiest ports, boxes linger for six days before getting picked up by truckers, and then take nine days to travel by train. 

Thankfully, ports are more used to these kinds of bottlenecks since COVID-19 and have changed operations to accommodate surges, increasing hours and establishing pop up yards to contain overflow. They have also enhanced communication among supply chain partners to predict future needs. Since more and more consumers will shift to services over goods as their primary spending habit, we will see a gradual mitigation of this kind of disorder. But in the meantime, how can organizations diminish the impact of this early peak season? 

How can organizations mitigate the impact?

These days, retailers and brands must start planning their holiday inventory in July. This extreme pre-planning requires forecasting stock, especially regarding what trends you think will do well months in advance. These predictions extend to allocating the correct amount of spending to each sales channel and knowing what items should be promoted. Many large, powerful retailers have circumvented future supply chain challenges by using air freight and dual sourcing to quicken shipping. Other companies are shifting manufacturing to other locations nearer to the US. All in all, all these organizations are trying their best to communicate to customers that there are ongoing challenges that could impact the arrival of their products.

But what are some changes and shifts in priorities that brands and retailers can make now to alleviate issues before they affect holiday season bottom lines?

Prepare for Ongoing E-commerce Purchases

Though most large promotions happen over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, consumer spending has increased even before the big holiday. Between 2021 Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, retailers made 33.9 billion in e-commerce sales, a year over year decline. But, retail sales showed a large increase in November and December 2021, demonstrating a new consumer purchasing trend.  Essentially, holiday shoppers have decided to begin purchasing ahead of Thanksgiving, due in part to the versatility online buying can give consumers. Retailers were also part of this shift, promoting heavy discounts starting in September, which moves the online shopping timeline even further forward. 

It’s easy to predict that this trend will continue in Fall 2022. To handle this timeline change and satisfy customer needs, begin planning your promotions now and prioritize connecting to shoppers, especially via mobile commerce, which accounted for nearly 46% of e-commerce holiday purchases in 2021. 

Expect (and prepare for) Online Traffic Surges

With an earlier peak season, your website will experience more and more visitors across a wider stretch of time. Therefore, it is vital that brands and retailers offer their customers a robust e-commerce site that won’t break down due to traffic. If you share a web host with other businesses, your website might operate at a slower pace, which could deter potential customers and lead to cart abandonment. The solution here is to ensure that your host server is strong enough to manage an influx of visitors ahead of the holiday season, before it’s too late to update the backend. 

Moreover, intersystem automation can also optimize your website, filling in any cracks among apps, systems, and plug-ins. An intersystem automation can apply a caching solution to remove unnecessary content and even augment website security. 

Invest in a State-of-the-Art Inventory Management System 

When you're managing day-to-day operations, especially during peak season, optimizing your efficiency is a critical concern. One way to support your overall productivity is to follow the growing trend of supply chain automation solutions. With integrated automation capabilities, you can keep your workflow running smoothly while reducing time, labor, and operating costs.

Inventory automation allows retailers to manage a range of repetitive tasks with minimal human effort. This solution helps to track and process stock for you, saving time and operating costs while freeing up your workforce to address other priorities. Automated inventory processing can address reordering, stock transfer tracking, order processing, reporting, and product dispatch notifications. Without automation, your business will fall behind other more tech-savvy companies that have more time to focus on their front end during their busiest season.

How can partnering with Osa help?

Osa created our supply chain technology with peak season in mind. In addition to an Inventory Management hub, we offer a Warehouse Management System Hub and an Integrations Management hub, all built to combat the impact of supply chain disruptions. These different hubs exist under the Unified Commerce Platform, giving retailers a real-time, bird’s eye view of order management, integrations, and warehouse management. To ensure that profits are maximized, retailers can view current stock versus sales and forecast future demand, while also getting full visibility of their order and inventory data across selling channels and 3PLs. 

To ensure that their supply chain is resilient at the busiest times, retailers can connect channels to sync data, automate listing pricing to reduce cart abandonment, set up new products, adjust replenishments, allocate inventory, and even print shipping labels from anywhere. Moreover, the Unified Commerce Platform provides robust data procurement regarding favored products, which retailers can use to choose promotions and their catalog for the holiday season.

With a longer peak season affecting every aspect of the supply chain, from ports to end consumers, it is more important than ever for organizations to mitigate the impact, lest they lose business from poor delivery times or a non-functional website. Retailers must prioritize pre-planning, agile software, and automation in order to stay ahead of the booming e-commerce game.



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