5 Peak-Season Prep Tips for Supply Chain Success

The global supply chain has been through the wringer this year. But amid the changing demands of online ordering, materials shortages, and logistical difficulties, one thing isn’t changing: The holiday season is coming right on time. Check on these five parts of your business to ensure you’re ready to tackle the peak holiday shipping season and finish the year strong.


1. Smart Storage for Easy Access


Keeping your inventory and supplies organized and accessible is essential. The right storage solutions allow team members to locate products for quick order fulfillment, which lets your business avoid backlogs and keeps the supply chain moving.


Shelving. Commercial shelving is an ideal starting point for smaller-scale operations. Options range from modular plastic units to powder-coated steel shelving, with options for bulk storage. While most units’ shelf heights can be customized, pay special attention to the shelving material. Some plastic shelving, as well as aluminum or steel wire units, have “vented” shelf plates. This allows for better air circulation but will not contain spills, and some items may snag or topple on vented shelving. Look for solid plates if an even surface is needed.


Bins and totes. Durable bins and totes can help keep inventory sorted and labeled effectively. As with shelving, storage bin options include solid bins or vented/mesh containers. The ideal choice will depend on what’s being stored. Will you need vented containers to allow for air circulation? Could your product spill or leak, making solid bins ideal for containing messes? Some options are stackable or nest inside each other when empty, making off-season storage easy. 


Pallet racks. If your large-scale operation receives much of its inventory on pallets, consider outfitting your warehouse or distribution area with pallet racks. Designed to hold the size and weight of palletized materials, pallet racks make it easy to use more vertical space for inventory storage or to keep backstock out of the way until it’s needed. Pre-configured pallet rack starter kits are ideal to start with, as they can be easily scaled up with add-on units as your needs grow. Accessories like security cages and high-density storage bin cabinets safeguard your storage area.


2. Optimize Your Packing Process


Maximize your team’s productivity with workstations outfitted for preparing orders. The ideal packing workstation will have a large, smooth workspace with easy access to the supplies you need to prepare orders for shipment, including industrial and wholesale packaging items such as shipping boxes, bubble mailers, poly mailers, packing peanuts, and shipping labels.


While having multiple packing stations can set your team up for success, you may consider an assembly line, paired with conveyors to keep products moving. Skate wheel or steel roller gravity conveyors are available in built-in or portable configurations. Each option allows team members to send orders easily from one station to another for fulfillment, packing, and quality control.


3. Move More Orders with Less Effort


When your packed orders are ready to ship, the right equipment will get them out the door. Pallet jacks, lift trucks, and hoists and cranes can help your team move products onto your shipping partner’s trucks.


Pallet jacks are an essential piece of warehouse equipment, letting a single operator easily move pallets from your distribution floor and onto the truck. Pallet jacks are available with weight capacities of many thousands of pounds, but keep in mind that their maximum lift heights are usually just a few inches. Lift tables, on the other hand, are scissor-style pneumatic platforms that can lift materials to heights of a few feet, a degree of mobility that is helpful when picking and supplying storage racks and shelves in a facility. Some lift tables can raise and rotate materials as needed.


Lift trucks can be used to retrieve pallet materials from higher shelves, move them around the facility floor, and raise them to truck-bed height for loading. Similarly, if your distribution floor is at ground level without a dock to load shipping trucks, lift trucks can be a great solution.


Be sure to outfit your dock or loading area with the right accessories for safe and smooth loading and unloading. Tire chocks and trailer stabilizing jack stands keep trailers and lifts secured. Dock lights help illuminate loading areas for added safety, while door gates ensure you’re in control of when materials come and go from your facility. 


4. Prepare to Show Off Your Product


Not all materials coming into your warehouse will go back out the shipping door. As you prepare for increased orders this season, ready your retail space to showcase your products.


Clothing racks, gondola shelving, slatwalls, and display tables and cases provide a variety of options for showcasing your products and allowing for attractive merchandising. Don’t forget to add countertop displays to draw attention to smaller goods near the register.


5. Keep Your Space Clean


The surge in holiday activity is bound to wear on your staff and your space. Keeping up a cleaning routine will ensure your inventory avoids damage, and that your space is welcoming for guests and your team.


A well-equipped business should keep a supply closet stocked with cleaning supplies, including solutions, cloths, mops, brooms, and floor scrubbers. Using shadow boards can help ensure products are returned after use and ready for the next job, avoiding time wasted hunting down misplaced equipment.


Facility maintenance should start with sweeping and clearing dirt and debris, followed by using a floor scrubber to clean the rest of the distribution floor. (Failing to sweep first could clog the scrubber’s pads with particulate debris causing damage to the floor itself.) For interior carpeted floors, keep an industrial vacuum on hand. High-traffic areas will need to be vacuumed regularly to keep up appearances and prevent dirt and debris from tracking into your storage space.


If your space doesn’t come with a convenient area to store cleaning supplies, consider a janitorial cart. Following the best cleaning mantra, these self-contained, portable carts have a place for everything and keep everything in its place, including trash collection, brooms and dustpans, mops and buckets, spray cleaners, and informational and hazard signs.


And don’t forget safety. Keeping your facility clean and orderly can help to cut down the risk of trips and falls. Similarly, ensuring your team is well rested and working at a sustainable pace during this busy time can reduce the chances of mistakes due to fatigue that cause injuries or product damage.


The holiday rush is a time for your business to thrive. Take time now to get your storage, shipping, sanitation and safety routines in order. Contact Global Industrial’s product experts for help finding the solutions you need to get ahead this season.


The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial® be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.