Andy Pretious of Automated Packaging Systems explores how retailers need to prepare their business for seasonal peaks in demand…
Black Friday is a growing phenomenon with £1.23bn spent in 2016, a 12% increase from the year before. For retailers and 3PLs to capitalise on the growing potential in this area, it’s important for them to prepare their organisation’s capability to make the most of the opportunities in the market. Businesses need to ensure that opportunities around Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the closely following festive season are maximised. This is not just with regards to sourcing the seasonal staff but having a fit-for-purpose packaging solution that can keep up with demand and is easy to train up temporary workers to use.
Window of Opportunity
While it can seem a long way off, it’s important for businesses to start preparations early. For the implementation and testing of a new packaging solution, organisations should allow several weeks, if not months. This gives enough time to train users on the system as well as
make any required tweaks to get it running in perfect synchronicity with the rest of the processes.
With intelligent systems that can integrate with existing CRM software, businesses also should set aside an appropriate period of time to make sure that this integration is seamless and both uses the CRM data whilst capturing the output back into the system for analysis and monitoring.
In the months running up to the busiest online retail weekend of the year, companies should review their past sales and projected figures for this period and ensure that they are geared up to meet demand, both in terms of product and packaging. Whilst shoppers often miss a great deal that’s sold out, it would be far more detrimental for a business to have to decline orders due to a lack of packaging materials or an ineffective packing system that is unable to keep up with demand.
Businesses must factor in the significant increase in demand for their products during this peak time, and be able to meet the fast turnaround time that consumers are increasingly becoming accustomed to. With next day, or even
same day, delivery being increasingly offered with online retail, fulfilment companies must be able to keep up. With this in mind, it’s vital that companies are able to scale up their productivity to meet demand. Automated Packaging Systems offers a range of packaging machinery that is up to six times faster than manual bagging, and which can be scaled up and down depending on the current need – ideal for a business that’s requirements can change depending on season or trends.
The space required for the packers can be vast. Using a bagging machine can significantly save space, with each machine needing just one operator. So rather than 30 bench-packers, just five machines with five operators would be needed to fulfil the same number of orders, not only saving space but salary outlay.
While meeting demand is of paramount importance in peak times, during the quieter periods, businesses do not want vital space being used by bulky machinery that is only needed during a few weeks of the year. Having smaller machines – the footprint of a standard Automated Packaging Systems machine is just two-sq m – means that valuable space can be used for storage or warehousing, rather than housing one large-scale machine that lies unused throughout most of the year.
In addition, if an order fulfilment company selects one large scale machine to meet their packaging needs, they can leave themselves at risk should there be any glitches or hold-ups on the line.
Alternatively, employing the use of several smaller machines gives businesses system redundancy. Should one line fail or halt for any reason, you can still continue to process orders on the remaining baggers. Instead of catastrophic downtime, a business with five baggers, for example, can still run at 80% if one line is down.
With the Black Friday phenomenon growing year-on-year and becoming a major milestone in the retail calendar, how a business performs during this period could be the difference between success and failure for the year. To work with an experienced partner who can advise, help specify and work in partnership through the implementation period and beyond, is crucial to ensuring a business can perform well and maximise the potential around key retail peaks.