5 Ways to Optimize Your Warehouse Operations for Peak Season Success

As the summer cools down, peak season begins to brew. For warehouse managers, a seasonal surge in orders is as dependable as the leaves changing, birds migrating, and festive products hitting the shelves. If you want to achieve seamless operations instead of getting overwhelmed, you need to start planning for peak season ASAP.

Consumer optimism about the economy is growing, and warehouse leaders can leverage this period of renewed spending to maximize profits and build customer trust. Effective preparation is key to success. Use these strategies to stay efficient, exceed customer expectations, and mitigate issues like labor shortages and supply chain delays.

1. Prioritize Forecasting

Forecasting demand can help you avoid excessive overstock while mitigating the impact of supply chain delays. While forecasting isn’t a new strategy, 43% of supply chain leaders plan to leverage artificial intelligence tools, which (with quality data) offer more accurate analyses of past peak season trends, such as:

  • The products that generated the most and least demand
  • Your highest peak in overall demand
  • When your peak season typically starts and ends
  • Average number of items per order

Be sure to revisit inventory issues from past years to identify how you can prevent major roadblocks in your warehouse processes. Then, leverage your insights to strategically build up your inventory and improve your restocking strategy.

If possible, connect with your clients to understand their business and marketing strategies for the season. Understanding which products they’re pushing—as well as trends they see in the market—can help you forecast trends that don’t align with your existing data.

2. Optimize Your Warehouse Layout

Smooth operations start with an optimal warehouse layout. Identify the inventory and equipment that workers will need to access most frequently. Then, reconfigure your layout as needed to minimize worker movement across the floor and refine paths where traffic jams could occur. For example, large warehouses with high volumes of products moving in and out commonly use an I-shaped layout, assigning shipping and receiving to opposite ends of the building. This layout allows companies to store more goods in between.

The efficiency of your warehouse layout can greatly improve your order cycle time and reduce costs.

3. Leverage Technology

Technology can play a critical role in streamlining your warehouse processes and enhancing visibility across your operations. If you haven’t already, consider implementing tools beyond warehouse management or inventory management software such as:

  • RFID tags, which allow you to track the location of products as they move across your warehouse in real time, with no scanners needed
  • Order picking robots, which can automate much of your picking process
  • IoT sensors, which can detect temperature and moisture changes, equipment problems, and beyond, so you can prevent major issues before they begin

4. Refine Your Shipping and Returns Strategy

Consumers expect rapid turnaround ahead of the holidays, which means warehouses must avoid unexpected delays. However, when shipping rates skyrocket with demand, it can be difficult to minimize costs.

Warehouse leaders can start planning for peak season by contacting carriers to get estimated rate changes and identifying when to use each—perhaps based on shipping weight, recipient location, and delivery time frame. Carriers can also inform you of shipping deadlines for major holidays, so you can communicate expectations to customers.

Consider adjustments you’ll need to make for return shipping, too. Additionally, be clear with customers about realistic return processing times and packaging requirements to prevent issues in the process.

5. Partner with a Staffing Firm

In 2022, 73% of warehouse operators struggled to find enough workers to keep pace with demand. But when peak season rolls around and orders surge, you can’t afford to be understaffed. Partnering with a staffing firm allows you to quickly scale your workforce up and down.

At Total Staffing Solutions, we have a large network of reliable industrial workers who we can connect you with when your labor needs rise. We take care of the screening and hiring process, so you can focus on optimizing your peak season strategy. With our contingent workforce solutions on your side, your business will have the qualified labor it needs for excel during your busiest season (and beyond).

Build the temp workforce you need to thrive. Connect with Total Staffing Solutions ahead of your peak season.