Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for an Echo Show 5. Today we will answer the following question: “how do you deal with the stress of holiday shipping?”
It’s a great question and it was submitted right after the holidays, too! Everybody knows that warehouse work during the holidays can be stressful. So we’re going to talk about how we keep shipping on time without losing it from the stress.
We’ve talked about how other businesses can prepare ahead for holiday shipping. What we haven’t discussed is how we prepare the massive rush of orders in November and December!
First and foremost, we have no illusions about what goes into holiday shipping. We know we see a massive rush of orders at the end of the year. We know the hours will be long, that we will have to hire additional staff, and that we may work a lot of overtime. The expectations are set properly from the beginning, so nothing comes as a surprise.
We take time to review all our processes. We make sure that we are efficient as clockwork when it comes to receiving, inventory storage and retrieval, packing, shipping, and returns. Fulfillrite must run like clockwork to make holiday magic happen, so we make sure there are no spanners in the works.
When holiday shipping draws near, we order extra shipping and packing supplies. Then we hire and train seasonal workers before we know that we will need them. This way we will be short on neither materials nor labor during the busy season.
As soon as they are published, we check and memorize the shipping deadlines with the major postal carriers. This is to make sure our clients’ orders arrive in their customers’ hands by the time they need to!
Once we see the first big rush of Black Friday orders, it’s time to get serious. We start by removing slack in our schedule. A typical workday during off-peak months will have a natural ebb and flow of very busy times and not-so-busy times. During November and December, there is essentially no downtime beyond what is necessary for workers to remain physically and mentally well.
If we know we’re going to have an extremely busy receiving day, we will hold shipments in trailers until we are able to properly unpackage them. This protects the shipments from the elements while allowing us to focus on a handful of shipments at a time.
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What do you do when it’s the holidays and you’re getting a HUGE rush of inbound shipments? ⠀ ⠀ Use big trailers to hold shipments while they’re still fully protected from the elements.⠀ ⠀ Then, have warehouse staff handle shipments a few at a time. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and most importantly – less error-prone, even with Christmas a week away!
Last, but certainly not least, warehouse work is extremely physical, tiring, and repetitive. For that reason, we often bring in catering during the holidays. It’s a small gesture that keeps our staff well-fed and happy and is a tradition of ours.
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It's Employee Appreciation Day at Fulfillrite! Warehouse work is tough in December with #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, and a steady influx of #Christmas orders. Our employees have been working extra hard for the last couple of weeks to ship orders on-time. They're doing a phenomenal job and we couldn't be happier! Thank you, @bagelkingnj for catering this FEAST – having great restaurants like yours nearby makes it all a little easier!
With a little forethought, holiday shipping, even in a warehouse environment, does not have to be super stressful. There are many proactive steps that we take to keep operations efficient and the workload manageable. During peak times, we carefully manage our time and space to reduce any inefficiencies that make us work harder than we have to in order to do the job right. And then on top of all that – we add in free food!