The latest consumer electronics products often rank high on shoppers' wish-lists during the holiday season, making it the busiest time of year for many high-tech and electronic retailers. But the holidays start even earlier for manufacturers.
Manufacturers are charged with supplying the right inventory at the right time for the right customers. The high-tech and electronics industry faces challenges year-round in this area, due to factors such as continual technology innovations and increasing, fluctuating customer demand. During the holiday season, these challenges become more complex, and pressures build as demand for popular products increases.
So, how should high-tech manufacturers ensure that the holidays are a time to celebrate rather than stress? In order to navigate the challenges of an increasingly global supply chain and other logistical issues, high-tech manufacturers need to plan far in advance for the peak holiday season. In fact, companies are well underway with their peak-season preparations by August in order to stay ahead of the game and be ready for the fall and winter rush. Below are some tips for preparing for peak season.
- Focus on the big, global picture. It's hard to tell exactly which products would be most popular with customers during the holidays until the end of the year, so it's possible that high-tech manufacturers will be thrown a curve ball late in the game when it comes to product demand. And with more high-tech companies sourcing from overseas, there are more supply chain factors than ever before to consider when it comes to stocking the right products exactly when consumers want them.
In order to get goods to market at the right times, high-tech companies must ensure they have visibility solutions in place to spot small problems before they become larger issues. The right technology solutions also let companies anticipate issues before they arise — and make alternate plans when necessary. Companies also need access to multiple modes of reliable transportation and solid back-up plans if goods are delayed in the supply chain for any reason and do not arrive as expected.
- Back up your back-up plan. With all of the unpredictable factors at play during peak season, including changes in demand, high-tech companies must have a plan in place to address unexpected challenges as they arise. Manufacturers must plan for uncertainty, and having just one plan isn't enough. Contingency planning, or having multiple, layered back-up plans in place, will allow high-tech companies to deal with last-minute changes successfully and with ease. As another form of back-up, high-tech manufacturers should ensure their supply chains are flexible enough to adapt to fluctuations that often occur during peak season.
- Identify and rely on the right logistics partner. High-tech manufacturers don't have to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of peak season alone. A third-party logistics provider (3PL) can help companies identify the smartest strategies for planning and executing peak-season preparations. For example, 3PLs can help companies scale back superfluous inventory as necessary without jeopardizing safety stock through supply chain design, planning, and implementation.
3PLs also can give companies greater visibility into their product lines through advanced tracking solutions, allowing high-tech manufacturers to know exactly where goods are in the supply chain at all times. Finally, some 3PLs provide access to a single source for air, ocean, rail, and road transportation, as well as customs brokerage to get high-demand products to market quickly and on schedule. When searching for the right partner, look for 3PLs with global infrastructure and a vast network of facilities and staff to address local, national, and global needs.
When the right preparations are made in advance, peak season can be a positive time for high-tech companies. Start planning today to reap the benefits later this year and ensure the holidays are merry.