At the best of times, your procurement department should function like a well-oiled machine, but if you're like a lot of companies, the need for that kind of certainty will most definitely increase around the holiday season. The more you can do to fully plan these efforts in the next few weeks will help your entire organization be fully prepared for the ups and downs of the hectic holidays.

Especially because of the complications accompanying the novel coronavirus pandemic, this planning should already be underway and it requires more insight into the kinds of behavior your supply chain partners and consumers bring to the table these days, according to Google. Largely because of the outbreak, demand for e-commerce is surging and shipping processes have changed quite a bit for many companies, especially in comparison with what they looked like last year.

Holiday orders can't be put off.Holiday orders can't be put off.

For all these reasons, it's absolutely critical that you examine how your past efforts contrast with the current situation and determine what it will take to get these considerations up to speed, the report said. This, of course, comes with the understanding that you can't predict everything that will crop up in the weeks ahead, but the more you can do to plot out some fallback positions and contingency plans based on the most recent data — and not just what has worked in years past — the better off you are likely to be.

Understanding shipping
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind these days is not how you will tap suppliers, but rather how you will get the things you purchase from Point A to Point B, according to Material Handling & Logistics. Connecting with carriers to determine what the freight charges will cost for your various shipments, either individually or collectively, is the kind of effort that can really help you identify potential areas for savings. Moreover, getting estimates for shipping times will typically help you properly weight your decisions between price and speed.

Along similar lines, the more you can do to see your purchases in real time as they move from a supplier to your front door will be critical, so making sure you have access to tracking data could also be a good idea, the report said. That may be particularly important if you choose a shipping partner you haven't tapped in the past.

Get it done sooner than later
You certainly don't want to be in a position where you are still waiting to see how some orders will shake out the week of Thanksgiving, according to Elementum. For that reason, whatever you can do to ensure shipments have arrived and are properly sorted out before that all-important week is going to be extremely valuable. Moreover, it may give you extra operational flexibility to handle any lingering problems from yet-to-arrive orders.

All of these efforts may require a more holistic, top-down view of your purchasing operations as a whole, but if you start laying the groundwork before November arrives, you'll be in better shape to handle everything with aplomb.

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