The Golden Quarter

Logistex’s General Manager – Engineering Support Services discusses the challenges of preparing for peak…

The Golden quarter, also known as ‘Peak’ is for many retailers the most important and most challenging time of the year. Many spend the first 9 months of the year just building up and preparing for this period.

So why is it such a challenge?

Stock holding

The aim of the game is to sell as many items of stock as possible, but of course when you have a sudden spike for demand, you have to ensure you have the right stock with the right sizes and colours available when the demand hits, otherwise you will be letting your customers down at a critical time which they unfortunately do not forget!

What does this actually mean? Well, for example, an average retailer’s distribution centre may hold around 5 million ‘items’ of stock on any normal day. Given that they may roughly require a further 40% stock holding for the peak period alone, they have to find space and process for a further 2 million items!

Resource

Given the above, you then need to be able to increase your staff holding by a similar % in a short space of time. Imagine taking on a few hundred extra staff that all need an induction and training on process, not just for the normal operating way but for peak challenging ways!

Equipment/Automation

To be able to cope with the ever growing demand on retailers, following the expectations of us the consumers wanting their items straight away, Automation is pretty much a necessity. But, if there is ever a time that equipment failure hurts you the most, it has to be peak! Potentially thousands of customer orders, and hundreds of staff stood around waiting for the magic green button to be pushed again to get the system back running following Engineer’s resolution.

It’s so critical that all equipment is in its prime condition ready to cope with the demands put on it through this period. Servicing and repairs, although they may cause inconvenience during other times, it’s certainly the better trade off than unexpected down time during the busiest time of the year!

Engineering

All eyes on you! Imagine the occurrence of a site stood still due to an unexpected breakdown, hundreds of eyes watching and an ever growing number of managers stood over your shoulder asking how long?!

This is a time when all that experience pays off, you have to be calm, be able to communicate under pressure whilst trying to solve the issue at hand.

A lot of the time Engineering is seen as the necessary evil, but they generally can be the unsung heroes!

Operations

If the stock holding is correct, you have the right resource in place and the Automation runs as you would hope, operations still have to conduct small miracles every day throughout and leading up to this quarter to ensure the customers’ needs are met.

I’ve only given rough estimates of figures during this blog down to my own experiences, but to finalise….

We wouldn’t have it any other way! The golden quarter, although the most challenging time for retailers, let’s not forget how magical a time it is!

So my final points would be to stock up, resource up and look after your assets, then enjoy the ride and take satisfaction in knowing you have delivered millions of smiles on Christmas day!!!

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