Nine months of prep – of analyzing data, of upgrading technology, of perfecting processes, of selecting inventory – have led to this: it’s peak season once again. Within the next few weeks, consumers will begin looking for good deals and putting items on layaway. And before you know it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will bring customers out to stores and onto websites in droves.
So before supply chain professionals go heads down to keep up with demand, we wanted to get a final pulse on 2023 peak season logistics. Kenco’s 2023 Annual Supply Chain Survey explored the challenges practitioners expect to encounter, and the strategies they’re executing in response.
Here are a few highlights:
Incentivizing seasonal hires
With unemployment rates remaining at near-historic lows – and eCommerce’s growing dominance putting even more pressure on fulfillment centers – retailers are likely to find themselves in a fierce competition for seasonal supply chain labor this year. The usual perks, such as employee discounts, won’t cut it. Supply chain professionals will need to offer unique incentives to sway new hires.
Our survey found just under half of professionals are taking their perks beyond peak season – 46% said they’ll consider seasonal employees for full-time positions, inviting recruits to look at their position as a stable opportunity come 2024, rather than landing back on the job market post Christmas. This strategy offers substantial benefits for the retailer as well, as these employees will join the full-time staff with two to three months of on-the-job experience.
Unsurprisingly, cash will be a big motivator as well. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they’ll offer sign-on or performance bonuses, and 37% will offer higher than average hourly wages.
Flattening the sales curve
Once upon a time, Black Friday was the crown jewel of holiday shopping – and while that meant retailers had to get more stock into their stores, there was no waiting between a customer purchasing an item and taking it home. As Cyber Monday has challenged Black Friday’s throne, retailers are now faced with having more stock on hand AND moving goods to customer doorsteps as quickly as possible.
This year, retailers will look for ways to convince customers to spread out their shopping – or accept longer shipping times – in a bid to alleviate supply chain stress. They plan to offer:
· Additional sales events outside Black Friday: 38%
· Free shipping for longer delivery timeframes: 36%
· Seasonal price matching: 34%
· Other incentives for customers to select slower shipping times: 25%
Building a smarter peak season
It seems as if AI has left its mark on every industry this year, so it should be no surprise that more than a third of supply chain professionals are testing the tech in their facilities. Because warehouses continuously collect data across their pick, pack and ship operations, AI has a deep pool of knowledge from which to help streamline the supply chain.
Of the respondents currently leveraging AI, nearly 3 in 4 are using it to improve their inventory tracking. Thirty-two percent are using it for process optimization and maintenance & equipment optimization each, while 30% will use it for forecasting.
GET THE FULL PICTURE!
Interested in exploring our complete findings? You can review our 2023 Peak Season infographic here. And for more information on how Kenco can help you start planning for the 2024 holiday season, visit our eCommerce solutions page.