Scaling Operations For Festive Season

Festival season is coming and every marketplace is expecting a huge jump in orders. As per a report published in Economics Times, this year the major marketplaces are expecting a 3X jump in shipments compared to last year. What does this mean to you as a seller?

Every seller on these marketplaces can expect a 2X to 3X jump in sales. Your daily order volumes are going to go up. This is a massive strain on your fulfillment team if you are not prepared for this order volumes. Unless you plan now, you will be understaffed, inefficient in operations result in SLA breaches, order cancellation or worst order returns due to wrong or incorrect dispatches.

It’s not too hard or too late to plan for the upcoming sales season. To manage these massive orders that you will need to follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Plan your order fulfillment
  2. Plan your dispatches
  3. Track your shipments

Plan your order fulfillment

The way you have processing orders normally will not scale when you get 300% more orders. You need to rework your order fulfillment process for that. Break down the order fulfillment into 3 steps:

  1. Stock Picking
  2. Order Packing and labeling
  3. Marking order ready for dispatch

So here is what you need to do

Analyze your current operations

Check your Employee strength:

How many persons do you have for operation? If you have more that one person in operations you can distribute the work and scale more efficiently by dividing the work among your staff. If you are not having sufficient staff in operations you need to start thinking of hiring temporary employees to scale your operations.

Capture your current operations timing.

You need to capture:

  1. How much time do you spend to pick items and how many items are picked in one batch. Say you are currently receiving 100 orders per day. How much of your time is spent on picking these 100 items? For items having special post picking operations like assembling the product or final QC, including those timing also in the picking time.
  2. How much time is spent on packing the order? Don’t forget to also, include the time to invoice and label the orders.
  3. How much time is spent in sorting the packed orders by couriers and generating the manifest for those shipments?

Here are a few tips to improve your picking time:

  1. Arrange your stock in clearly marked locations/bins. Make sure all the people involved in picking are aware of the locations. If required, prepare a schematic of the locations and stick this on the information wall.
  2. When you are processing orders, make sure you create a picklist for the orders. A picklist is a list of items associated with the orders and the quantities for each item. Using picklist to pick up items will dramatically improve your picking timing as your picker will be spending less time visiting the warehouse to pick an item. If you use a good modern order management system like easyops, you will get the picklist directly from the software.
  3. Make sure your storage locations are tagged and clearly labeled, making it easy for pickers to find the location.

Tips to improve your packing time

Think of processing orders in waves.

So what is wave-based processing? Say you come to the office in the morning and you find you have 500 orders to fulfill and you only have 2 hours before the courier comes for pickup. Now you can’t fulfill all the orders together at that time, but if you break the orders in smart batches and start processing them you should be able to do it faster.

So how to do the wave-based processing?

1) Identify and generate a picklist for high priority orders first. This could be ordered which is breached SLA or near SLA. This becomes your first wave batch.
2) Next, generate a picklist for orders with a single item. These orders are the fastest to pack. This should be your second wave batch.
3) Next, generate a picklist for the remaining orders.

During peak season plan to generate picklist wave throughout the day. To make sure your operations are efficient, ensure you have sufficient order in a wave batch.

Wave-based picking is supported by a modern order fulfillment system like easyops.

Pack the orders by picklist.

Before starting packing make sure you have sorted the picked item and arranged the label and invoice with the order. Have a QC process to ensure the correct item and quantities are packed with each order. If you use a smart order fulfillment system like easyops, you can automate this verification process in your operation.

Create an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for the festive season operation.

Prepare a detailed SOP for your daily operation. The SOP that you prepare should take into account the number of employees you have in operations and the special requirements of your order fulfillment process. Try to break down the operations on hour basis and see how much can be done in each hour. Try to rotate the staff between picking and packing operations in a day to make sure they are not overworked and stressed out. Remember an overworked, stressed-out employee tends to make mistakes.

Execute and monitor

Once you have the plan and process in place, make sure to monitor and execute it so that you know the plan is working for you or not. Do not hesitate to tweak and adjust the plan as per your needs. Lastly, make sure you keep a record of the orders you received, order dispatched and pre-shipment cancellation so that you have the records to reconcile your payments.

Plan your dispatches

It’s important to plan your shipments. Once you have marked an order ready for dispatch make sure the package is sorted by courier. This will ensure that the courier guy does not have to wait for a long time to pick up the item.

Sorting the packed item at the pack station itself is one of the fastest ways to process. After the orders are packed, you should segregate the packages based on the courier. Put the packed orders in the basket or location designated for the courier.

You should have clearly marked a location for the courier. Arrange the packed orders at the location. Place the printed manifest on top of the arranged shipments. Make sure you take the signature of the courier boy and keep the signed copy of the manifest for your records.

Track your shipments

Track your dispatched orders. Make sure the orders that are picked up from your premises are marked as picked up in the marketplace panel. Track which of your orders are delivered and make sure you keep a record of that. Using a modern order fulfillment system like easyops makes it easy to track shipments.

Final Thoughts

Scaling operations for the festive season order spike is a serious business. Plan, strategize and execute well to be successful this season. Happy selling!!

What did you think about the article? Do you have tips to add to this? We would love to hear about them. Post your comments/tips below.

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