Retail supply chain must be prepped for holiday shoppingWhile some merchants may focus solely on the profits the holiday season will bring, they need to ensure their supply chain isn't overlooked during the busy last few months of the year. Occasionally, retailers are able to make their plans mere weeks in advance, but many others may require more than a year to sufficiently prepare, place orders and determine the best logistical routes.

Problems await
Those companies that have not effectively prepared for the increased amount of inventory, customer concerns or shipping delays that often plague the holiday season may anticipate seeing some problems coming their way. Those who have failed to order all the product the need to get them through the end of the year may find that special products are unavailable for order or cannot be manufactured and shipped in time to make it to their store shelves. Others may be able to still order merchandise, but have a difficult time finding overbooked trucks or couriers to get the products to a warehouse or shipping center. Some may have ordered too much of something, and run out of room in their storage centers for highly in-demand products.

While planning in advance can be difficult, it is essential for a successful holiday season. According to Retail Times, many businesses have methods to track their anticipated holiday needs throughout the year, but these can be updated on a more frequent basis as shopping picks up in the final months of the year. Companies that fail to plan correctly could suffer the consequences by not having in-demand merchandise in stock, failing to provide customers with the service they expect or dealing with lower sales than expected.

Preparation underway
It appears as though holiday preparation has been underway for several months. According to The Trucker, August, September and October are typically the busy months for logistics operators, as they ship orders to retailers across the country in preparation for holiday shopping. The source reported that November is also expected to be a big month for retail logistics, and import cargo at retail container ports is anticipated to increase by 5.9 percent.

With correct preparation strategies and continually updated data on inventory levels, customer demand and shipping estimates, merchants can better manage their supply chains and have a more successful and less stressful holiday season.
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