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It’s July: Are You Ready for Christmas?

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

11 comments on “It’s July: Are You Ready for Christmas?

  1. AnalyzeThis
    July 25, 2011

    For consumer electronics, I think this could very well be the most difficult holiday season to predict in recent memory.

    The economy — both domestic and worldwide — is so somewhat up-in-the-air right now: this holiday season could be a complete disaster; it could be a huge improvement over last year. It's really hard to say. Yes, I'm sure plenty of pundits out there are convinced they “know” what the economy will look like come November, but I personally am hesitant to predict what direction these winds are blowing in.

    And for certain types of consumer electronics, gauging consumer demand is even trickier: I feel sorry for anyone that isn't Apple trying to sell tablets, for instance. It's insanely difficult at this point to figure out what the market for tablets in general is especially with Apple being such a dominant force. And even if you do manage to distance yourself from Apple's shadow, there are multitude of competing tablets already on the market (and even more on the way!), so by the time the holidays come around you could very well be competing with heavily discounted tablets others are trying to cut their losses on.

    Carla, I think you gave some great tips… but I'm very nervous about how merry these holidays will be at this point!

  2. mario8a
    July 26, 2011

    Thanks for the good advice, and good timing since in this time of the year is when most of the electronic manufacturers are driving cost reductions and they try as hard as they can to secure inventory for the holiday season, sales and marketing representives are using their best channels distributions to get a place on the retail store.

     

    thanks for such educative article.

    regards

  3. jbond
    July 26, 2011

    It seems like every year companies are preparing for the holiday season earlier than the previous one. It is hard to predict some of the big sellers and ensure that retailers have them in stock. Your few step plan seems like if manufacturers and buyers have all their ducks in a row, they can have an uneventful and profitable holiday season. This also allows for better logistics, since the planning is done months in advance instead of at the last minute.

  4. JADEN
    July 26, 2011

    New products are coming out usually while new markets and competitiors are all over the World.  Customers know what they want and what they are ready to pay for, and if manufacturer can't meet their needs, that means they are missing out.

  5. Barbara Jorgensen
    July 26, 2011

    Great advice, Carla. I wish I had the foresight to think about the holiday season right now. But it's good advice for businesses that have to move a lot of product. One consumer (me!) won't make a lot of difference at Christmas-time, but the kind of freight businesses have to move is astonishing. It is dfinitely time to plan ahead.

  6. saranyatil
    July 27, 2011

    I just thought of an irony it so happens that I save some money to buy products during the season same with them they have to plan for inventory well in advance.

    Since they are familiar with sales trend during christmas i think it will help them to plan accordingly.

  7. Himanshugupta
    July 27, 2011

    I do agree that backup plan, backup of backup plan and logistic partners are right things to do but all this cost money. Do companies have that surplus budget for these arrangement? Is it good to play safe or act agressively? Also year long trend and economic conditions should provide enough indication about the expected sales for a company during the holiday season so does the extra precaution make sense?

  8. Daniel
    July 27, 2011

    Carla, it’s like companies which are making umbrella and winter jackets throughout the year. But sales are happening only in seasons, seasonal sales. Christmas is the peak time for sales and companies had started preparing for that.

  9. hwong
    July 27, 2011

    DennisQ – Why do you think this year will be particularly difficult. It is always a matter of forecasting within a range. I think this year is no different unless there was some sort of spectacular events. Economy has stinged for the past few years to say the least. Companies will keep doing their forecast just like every year else

  10. Kunmi
    July 28, 2011

    Seasons determine the sale and the consumer response. Consumers always look forward to the special time to purchase products at a reduced price so if the companies start preparing for christmas in July, it is not bad. It is just the principle of 5Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (for the companies)

     

  11. Anna Young
    July 31, 2011

    Good tips on planning, sales and marketing strategy at seasonal period. I'm sure this will be beneficial for the electronics manufacturing industry or even any business for that matter.

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