How to Manage Changing Holiday Demand for Distributors

3 min read

Tags: Blog, Demand forecasting, Inventory management, Purchasing & replenishment, Tips & Tricks

Maggie Bendis   September 30 2017


Manage Holiday Demand Changing

Index

  1. Holidays that affect customer demand
  2. Coping with disrupted holiday demand
  3. Conclusion

Holidays throw item demand into chaos for retailers – which means that distributors need to be on top of their game to stay afloat. Not only does demand for items change drastically during the holidays, but distributors also need to be already planning ahead for changed holiday demand months in advance to be able to fulfill orders in time.

Holidays that affect customer demand

Christmas/New Years

Christmas giftsWith the vast amount of gift-giving associated with this holiday, it’s no wonder that demand soars for wholesale distributors – especially for those who distribute typical gift items to retailers. For consumers, planning begins as early as October with 40% of consumers beginning holiday shopping before Halloween.

This means that retailers will be keeping an eye on what customers are viewing and will begin planning their own procurement to fulfill holiday demand. Wholesalers likewise need to be aware of what retailers will be needing to fulfill orders earlier in the year as retailers begin procurement for the holiday season months in advance.

Hanukkah

The festival of light as celebrated by the Jewish people. Its date is variable but it usually coincides with Christmas. As there are eight days of gift-giving, it is an important date for retailers in areas with a sizeable Jewish population and comes with the same sort of demand changes as Christmas.

Thanksgiving/Black Friday

The Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. Many retailers discount goods on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, which leads to a large spike in holiday demand. Retailers tend to discount items throughout the entire shopping period up to Christmas as well, leading to increased demand from end customers and causing demand spikes for distributors.

Coping with disrupted holiday demand

Forecast effectively

This is the basis for a successful holiday period. Distributors need to accurately predict which items will be in high demand over holiday periods and effective forecasting leads to accurate procurement and fulfillment. Historical demand is a good place to start when it comes to determining which items will be in high demand. New items with no sales history are trickier to accurately predict, but just as important to forecast. Forecasting will need to be done months in advance since order fulfillment for retailers will be a few months in advance as well.

Organize your warehouse

Make fulfillment for your team as easy as possible by organizing your warehouse to optimize packing and shipping. One way to organize your warehouse is with ABC analysis; this groups items based on demand per unit and makes the “A” (highest demand” items the most accessible. This will help your team get orders packed and shipped efficiently and accurately so that your service levels stay high during the holidays.

Streamline your order processes

This includes your orders to your suppliers as well as orders coming in from your customers. In line with organizing your warehouse, making sure that your order processes are seamless will help you manage holiday demand better. This is best done with warehouse and inventory management software that automates order processing thereby improving speed and efficiency and reducing costs and errors.

Prepare for returns

forklift driverReturns are inevitable, and having a return policy in place and a process for reintegrating items into your warehouse or redistributing items to different warehouses will help you better manage your supply chain. Accepting returns is a surefire way to cement relationships with customers and keep them loyal to your brand.

Conclusion

Holidays can make or break your customer relationships. Knowing what your customers are concerned about and helping them achieve their own customer service levels is the best way you can strengthen your relationship with your customers. This includes having what they order on hand when they need it and delivering it quickly and accurately. Keeping your own service levels high is no mean feat, but with the right planning and tools, you can make sure your holiday season and beyond are a success.

To get a better view of the current state of your inventory and see where you should make adjustments, take a look at our Inventory Health Self-Assessment. Diagnose your inventory with these 12 detailed questions.

Inventory Health Self-Assessment