This is a guest post from www.wonolo.com
If there is one thing constant in the warehouse industry, it is that change never stops. This is true even with seasonal demands. There was a time when historical data could be used to predict seasonal spikes — well, that is no longer the case. The new norm is there is no norm.
Warehouse management is about ensuring supply flows meet demand as efficiently and economically as possible. Furthermore, the uplift in e-commerce shopping has dramatically transformed the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. With warehousing and distribution centers, along with online shopping, product can be pulled and sent to customers much faster.
Plus, advancements in warehousing technologies have given companies greater flexibility in terms of meeting consumer demands. Still, modern warehouses must continue to review their hiring strategies to meet seasonal demands.
How do today’s warehouses address the need for temporary warehouse workers? The warehousing industry faces a unique challenge in that it plays an integral — and growing — role in holiday shopping demand as more consumers turn to online channels for their shopping needs. As a result, it is necessary to have a capable and on-demand workforce without inducing the risk of sacrificing quality or hindering the supply chain.
Seasonal employment advantages
When warehouses decided to hire seasonal employees during peak periods, it can prove beneficial for their yearly bottom line. The National Retail Federation has stated, “For some retailers, the holiday season can represent as much as 20-40 percent of annual sales.” High-volume periods, such as the holidays, can make or break a company’s profit objectives.
Yet, seasonal employees are a cost-effective option, as warehouses don’t have to keep them on the payroll all year round. In addition, seasonal employees are usually not paid benefits. Moreover, seasonal employees offer a buffer for full-time employees who can now schedule their holidays and vacation. And federal law allows employers the ability to schedule seasonal employees for part-time or full-time work.
There are ebbs and flows for year-round fulfillment operations. In this regard, a trend for modern warehouses is to find a balance so that they can keep a stable workforce all year round. Naturally, temporary labor challenges will occur when there are spikes in consumer activity.
So instead of hiring hundreds of temporary workers during the holidays, level-loading orders can help warehouses become better prepared for fulfillment operations of all sizes. Then they can stay on track with their delivery standards and beat the holiday delivery deadlines before they get to an unmanageable level.
Keep seasonality in mind
Warehouses must also have a deep understanding of the seasonality of their business. E-commerce growth will continue to outpace brick-and-mortar stores. Still, not all sales require the same number of seasonal hires.
Also, brick-and-mortar stores may be their busiest between September and November. In contrast, e-commerce is busiest during December because consumers are used to getting their orders processed and delivered within a matter of days — so they can shop at the last minute.
All this means is that contemporary warehouses must have a year-round staff that is enhanced between September and November, then additional temp workers added during December. For instance, it makes sense to work with a single and on-demand, temp staffer who can provide vetted and pre-screened warehouse help when needed.
So, understanding the seasonality makes for smart hiring decisions. Re-hiring and re-training workers is a hassle. Leveraging the year-round staff makes more sense.
Use of predictive analytics
Another warehouse trend is an increasing and significant investment in predictive analytics. Through the combination of buyer sentiment, location tracking, and aggregate web-search data, more accurate forecasts can be made.
This data can then help to optimize seasonal hiring and inventory levels during the ebbs and flows of consumer shopping habits. Similar to level-loading inventory, warehouses can now be fully prepared for spikes in customer activity with the right number of employees and the right amount of inventory to meet peak demand.
To successfully make it through seasonal demands, companies need to continually review their warehousing and seasonal staffing strategies. The goal is to stay lean, ready, and level-loaded regardless of the season.