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Navigating Peak Season With Transparency: Resilience Across the Retail Sector

June 21, 2024

Peak seasons in retail verticals–such as fashion and office supplies–can be demanding for the supply chains involved. Demand can be volatile, with ebbs and flows centered around seasonality. This can make it hard to plan logistics processes around the year. That said, building or leveraging a robust logistical framework, including container-tracking software solutions that promise visibility and transparency, can help these supply chains simplify operations.

This article explores the peak season of retail, fashion, and office supplies verticals, what they entail, and how businesses can explore tracking solutions to streamline their supply chains.

Understanding Peak Season Dynamics in The Retail, Fashion, and Office Supplies Industry

While peak seasons are commonplace within retail, they do not necessarily occur at the same time for different industry verticals. The retail, fashion, and office supplies verticals all have varying peak seasons for different items. For instance, summer will be the peak season for certain fashion items, while back-to-school periods will be the peak season for office supplies, including papers, pens, and writing pads.

Here is an overview of the entire process:

1. Retail Peak Season

The major peak periods for retail supply chains are during the holiday seasons. That will typically happen several times a year, like Labor Day or the Fourth of July. Regardless, the most important holidays for this industry are not until the summer, when students are on vacation, and then, towards the end of the year, when we have Thanksgiving and Christmas in quick succession.

These periods are generally when consumers are willing to splurge on different retail items for various reasons. You will have promotional days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas during these periods.

2. Fashion Industry Peak Season

The fashion industry is more nuanced than the retail or office supplies industry. Peak periods typically depend on seasonal changes like winter, summer, and spring. It will also depend on fashion launches, holiday seasons, end-of-season sales, and major events like fashion weeks across the globe.

Because of our different natural seasons, businesses and supply chains do not make so much for each season or event. Consumers will buy at different times, so it is always best to limit stock to create a sense of urgency that drives sales.

3. Office Supplies Peak Season

Peak periods for office supplies are usually during the back-to-school season, tax season, and fiscal year ends because there will be a lot of demand for items like paper clips, pins, and other necessary tools that aid writing and documentation.

Although remote work has dulled demand a bit, companies are increasingly calling their workforce back to offices, which may spur more demand in the coming seasons.

Logistical Challenges During Peak Season

Peak seasons are demanding because of the massive volume of order fulfillment during that period. The holiday season (retail), back-to-school season (office supplies), and new fashion launches (fashion) are all peak times for these industries, which means a surge in demand. However, this surge in demand brings many logistical challenges that businesses need to be prepared for.

Here's a breakdown of some of the most common issues:

1. Inventory Management Challenges

Peak seasons are notorious for complicating supplies. Poor planning can cripple the supply chain during these periods, leading to very minimal sales. On the other end, the peak seasons can be so extreme that plans fall short, which is why many supply chains leverage the services of a third-party logistics provider, tracking partners, and other service providers to supplement.

When inventory management struggles to keep up, it can lead to stockouts (lack of inventory), excess inventory (too much inventory), and rapid product turnover( which can be good depending on how the supply chain is prepared to handle it). Stockouts and excess inventory can be dangerous because they can lead to loss of sales or too much cost for the supply chain.

2. Warehouse and Distribution Challenges

During peak seasons, it can be challenging for the warehouse and distribution centers to handle all that workload. This usually happens when order volumes are much more than initially anticipated. Issues like lack of adequate resources and limited space can slow down the entire process, leading to longer order processing and lead times.

The warehouse is critical because it is the meeting point of demand and supply. When compromised by a lack of transparency and planning, it can impact the overall supply chain operation and its ability to manage both.

3. Transportation and Delivery Challenges

These are usually the last leg of the entire supply chain management operation. Because the same vehicles are leveraged to deliver or meet all the orders coming in, the entire process may collapse at a certain point if it is too much for the system. Like other logistical challenges, the transportation and delivery process relies heavily on planning and transparency, facilitated by a robust tracking solution.

Wrong information due to poor communication may also impact the delivery operation, frustrating customers and the entire supply chain.

Benefits of Container Tracking Solutions During Peak Season

Container tracking solutions play a crucial role in logistics, especially during peak seasons when the demand for efficient supply chain management is at its highest. It enhances demand and supply planning and communication, allowing supply chains to predict future outcomes more accurately. These hold a lot of benefits for the supply chain, including:

Enhanced Visibility and Transparency

Real-time tracking provides the supply chain with necessary information every step of the way. This information could range from location to delivery status and the need for a vehicle or other logistics infrastructure. With the information on hand, supply chain professionals can better plan and schedule to meet the demands of peak seasons. Visibility and transparency also help improve the overall decision-making across the supply chain and allow different parties to work together seamlessly.

Increased Efficiency

Managing order fulfillment operations can be cumbersome because of the activities during the peak season, leading to mistakes and inefficiencies. This is especially true where inventory management and transportation scheduling are concerned, as such mistakes will lead to costly delays that could jeopardize the entire supply chain process.

With container tracking solutions, that doesn’t have to be the case. These tracking solutions allow for optimized inventory management because supply chains can track inventories on hand and those in transit. The solution also improves transportation management and scheduling by providing a complete view of all vehicles across different shipping modes.

Lower Cost of Operation

The container tracking solution helps streamline and optimize the activities and processes across the entire supply chain operation. This means that more stakeholders and processes can interact better and proactively manage situations that may arise. This way, these stakeholders can reduce delays and penalties across all shipping modes, especially when it concerns customs.

The business can mobilize drayage services, customs brokers, and other critical parties to ensure that the clearance process goes smoothly and the goods are transitioned into the different processes and logistics solutions.

Tracking solutions are also critical for reducing or eliminating errors in the transportation process. It allows the logistics management team and 3PL providers to effectively track cargo or containers, ensuring no mistakes with timing, scheduling, and, in some cases, repairs. Tracking makes the entire system operate seamlessly, leading to more throughput and optimized supply chain operation.

How OpenTrack Helps Navigate Peak Seasons

OpenTrack has been designed and developed by experienced freight operators to make container tracking easier for everyone. Whether you are a freight forwarder or shipper, we care about keeping you in control of supply chain visibility. OpenTrack was created with you in mind, allowing you to work smarter, not harder.

The OpenTrack team is dedicated to making logistics easier for all. We're with you every step of the way, from integration to troubleshooting. We go the extra mile to ensure you can keep an eye on the containers you care about.

Book a demo with OpenTrack today and learn how integrated container-tracking software can transform your intermodal operations.

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