Your Guide to Recovering from the Holiday Rush
[Image Attribution: Fertnig via Getty Images]
What’s the best way to close out a season that’s sure to be more demanding than the last? In this article, we’ll walk you through steps to ensure your team and facility are set up for success in the new year, from managing returns to doing a deep clean after months of heavy traffic.
Get Ready for Returns
Are you anticipating the inundation of gifted apparel that didn’t fit, or technology products damaged during the shipping process? Ensure your facility can process the flow of returns that follow holiday sales each year.
- Forecast your rate of return. How many post-holiday returns do you typically process in a given week? When do returns usually begin to arrive after the holidays? How long of a window does your company or vendors allow customers to make returns? Once you know what to expect, and when, you can organize your facility with sufficient storage, workspaces, and staffing to take in and process the anticipated return volume.
- Create a dedicated returns area. Reserve bins, totes, and containers for storing incoming returns. You may need to add shelving to store incoming inventory and a workbench or utility table for unpacking and processing it.
- Have a process in place for sorting. Will your company recycle damaged electronics, donate gently used clothing, or restock like-new home decor? Whether you’re sending items to the vendor, adding them back into your inventory, or trashing them, you’ll want to distinctly label bins and establish a clear process your team can follow.
- Prepare your back office. It’s one thing to sort items in the warehouse, it’s another to field phone calls or emails from customers and vendors concerning questions, complaints, and claims related to returns. Make sure your back office accounting and customer services teams are equipped for the likely uptick in work at the start of the new year.
Take Stock of Your Stock
Do you have surplus inventory because certain items didn’t sell as well as projected? Are you running low on packing materials? Is more storage needed for the barrage of merchandise arriving after the new year? Now is the time to survey your inventory, materials, and storage so your setup meets your anticipated needs for the year ahead.
- Consider expanding or revamping your storage system. When the mad holiday dash began, how smooth was your workflow? Were busy team members bumping into one another? Were there enough packing and shipping supplies within reach, or could the protective wrap, packing tape, and boxes have been closer to the packing station? Discuss with your team what worked well layout-wise and where there’s room to improve. Then rearrange or expand your storage capacity and work areas accordingly.
- Restock materials and supplies. Be sure to reorder packing paper, protective wrap, boxes, padded envelopes, packing labels, and other frequently used packing supplies. The post-holiday season is also a great time to restock cleaning products, including sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and all-purpose cleaning solutions.
- Inspect safety equipment and gear. Gloves, eye protection, and other personal protective equipment may need an upgrade after the holidays. Now is also a good time to ensure all your equipment remains in peak operating condition. Loose storage rack rollers, a broken conveyor belt, or a blown forklift tire can cause injuries and delays if not properly handled.
Clean Your Facility
Don’t wait until spring for a deep clean. Take advantage of the post-holiday rush to make sure everything in your warehouse or retail space has a place — and gets a good cleaning.
- Do a deep clean. Use rags and cleaning solutions to wipe down counters and other surfaces. Clear away any shipping debris and foot traffic dirt with brooms.
- Use a floor scrubber. Give your floors a good scrubbing that restores them to their pre-holiday shine.
- Disinfect the domain. Sterilize large swaths of your space with a sanitizing fogger for the health and safety of your employees and customers.
- Review indoor and outdoor signage. Replace any worn hazard taping on steps, edges, and at entrances, make sure emergency exit signs remain in working order, and clean any customer-facing signage so it’s clearly visible.
Look in the Rearview Mirror
It’s easy to get caught up in the peak-season rush. When activity in your facility calms down after the holidays, make time for introspection to improve your processes going forward.
- Reflect on your team’s wins over the season. What went well? Did any process changes improve productivity? Who on your team went above and beyond?
- Discuss shortcomings from the past year. Whether process issues caused delays in order fulfillment or inadequate staffing and equipment tired your team out, now is the time to make note of changes and upgrades needed and to start planning how to address them.
- Make sure you’re prepared for the year ahead. Once you’ve collectively taken stock of the past year, your management team can leverage that hindsight for better decision-making into the following year.
Whether you’re looking to start the new year strong or taking time midyear to revamp your processes, Global Industrial can help your material handling team make the upgrades it needs to find success. Contact our product experts today to learn more.
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.