Retail logistics managers need to be prepared to handle sudden and dramatic fluctuations in demand. While they may be able to anticipate some surges, like the holiday shopping season, not all retail trends are as easy to predict. Unforeseen events can also cause certain products to instantly become hot commodities, making forecasting future demand a challenge.
If you’re unable to scale when demand spikes, you may wind up scrambling to get orders out the door in a timely fashion—leaving clients frustrated by the inability to rapidly ramp up their inventory. At the same time, you don’t want to expend vital resources to get ready for something that may or may not even happen.
Flexibility is the key to a scalable and sustainable retail logistics operation. Here are a few strategies you can implement to strike the right balance between preparedness and prudence.
1. Keep carriers on deck
Building a robust network of trusted carriers can help supply chain managers find capacity on short notice. Shippers often over-rely on one or two carriers when demand is steady—but what happens if they’re all booked up when a big rush hits?
Fostering strong relationships with a wider array of carriers can also make it easier for shippers to ensure they’re paying competitive rates. If you always use the same carriers and rarely evaluate the market, you may wind up paying much more than you need to. This is especially important as you start to scale since those extra dollars will quickly add up.
Of course, evaluating new carriers can be time-consuming—which isn’t ideal if you’re already experiencing a surge. At CTSI-Global, we give our partners access to our 20,020-strong network of reliable, pre-vetted carriers to streamline the process and allow them to focus on their growth. Since we’ve been building relationships with our carriers for years, shippers can also access discounts and rates they wouldn’t find elsewhere.
2. Lean on a reliable logistics partner
During busy periods, more hands-on-deck is often essential. Hiring additional team members is one option—but if the surge in demand is only temporary, the expenses involved in bringing on (and then potentially laying off) more salaried employees could be devastating.
Smart managers know when to delegate and when to outsource. Utilizing reliable logistics management services can help shippers find support when they need it, without locking themselves into long-term commitments that they might later regret. The right outsourced provider can ramp up quickly, augment the existing team, fill any gaps in their skill set, and be there for as long as the business needs them. Plus, by partnering with a provider like CTSI-Global that has decades of experience working with companies across multiple industries, shippers can gain insight into strategies that best-in-class firms are using—and adopt them for themselves.
3. Let technology do the heavy lifting
During slower periods, employees may have the bandwidth to manually enter data or engage in endless email chains with carriers. But when things get really busy, this approach just isn’t sustainable.
Embracing automation can help, eliminating many menial tasks so employees can dedicate more time to business-critical activities. Automated tools can also optimize many steps in the logistics process, helping shippers get orders out faster—no matter how fast the orders are coming in.
Scale your retail logistics operations at the drop of a hat
When a spike in demand comes out of left field, a cutting-edge transportation management system (TMS) isn’t just nice to have—it’s essential.
Honeybee TMS™ is a proprietary solution from CTSI-Global that can help shippers streamline every step in the transportation management process—from order to payment. And with built-in business intelligence capabilities, teams can identify emerging trends and gradual upticks in demand in real-time, making it easier to predict when a surge is round the corner.
Don’t let scaling snarls leave you in disarray. Contact us today.