Quick reminder: Peak 2016 ended two months ago. Long enough to figure out what went wrong and what went right. And, certainly by now, your 2017 process improvement work plans are defined, assigned, and well under way.

Sound like you? No? Well, Black Friday is only 37 weeks away. Take away time for freezing change and process burn-in (please build these in), and you now have 30 weeks to be comfortably ready. For other peaks, like back-to-school, push starts in 18 weeks. Spring/Easter? You have 7 weeks to get your stock in and slotted correctly.

No Time To Waste

Your “Make Peak 2017 The Best Ever” to-do list is a long one. Fixing things that didn’t work well in 2016 is To-Do #1. Number 2 is probably how to handle capacity issues for sales targets 15% or more than last year. (What most retailers reported this year’s targets are).

And, if your Peak 2016 order processing time wasn’t where the top floor wants it to be, make To-Do #3 to aim for an even greater peak capacity growth number—labor needs included—of 30% (or more) to avoid prolonged daily carryovers to work through the Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday surge.

“And How Exactly Do I Do That?”

Granted, lead times from a busy software and hardware supplier community aren’t getting any better. If discussions regarding new or upgraded WMS or new sorters or other large capital projects aren’t already underway, then you’re planning for Peak 2018.

However, even with the Peak 2017 Countdown on, you still have time to pursue improvements. For example, have you considered…

Optimizing inbound, storage, and slotting planning and ensuring no “new product” surprises by connecting and improving communication between operations and merchandisers?

Improving staffing and labor-shortage strategies via expanded recruiting to retirees, the disabled, college students, teachers, agriculture workers, stay-at-home caretakers, etc.; maximizing cross-training opportunities; and fine-tuning HR peak retention and incentive plans?

Adding flexibility and capacity to fulfillment and packing by creating new flex pick lines, establishing pop-up capacity for standalone product lines or “ship alones,” or building capacity shunts to offline pack stations?

Gaining capacity through better process design, institutionalizing best practices, formalizing labor management (metrics, labor standards, LMS), and improving training approaches?

Reducing idle time and lost capacity through improved end-to-end flow management and optimized scheduling of people and equipment?

Upgrading floor-level supervisory talent with people are trained to make a difference managing people, process and performance?

Avoiding equipment failures by reinforcing and expanding equipment preventive maintenance; replacing critical failure risks, ensuring spare part stocking levels; and ensuring equipment or software service agreements are current.

Leveraging brick-and-mortar stores and maximizing OmniChannel strategies via “ship to store” and “ship from store” capabilities? (It’s complex. Might need to consider it a 2018 Peak strategy.)

We’ll expand on this topic in upcoming posts. We know this is a lot to consider. Care to talk about it? Drop us an email.

As of September 8, 2020, Crimson & Co (formerly The Progress Group/TPG) has rebranded as Argon & Co following the successful merger with Argon Consulting in April 2018. 

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