India’s most-awaited and grandest festive season is just around the corner. Although the pandemic has led to large scale disruptions in supply chains with restrictions on movement, the economy is gradually reopening, and festive spirits haven’t been dampened. For e-commerce businesses, the festive season is an extremely busy and crucial time. The highly lucrative sector, having maintained business continuity despite hitting a few snags, has witnessed a quick rebound, resuming full-fledged operations. With the pandemic-related tailwinds spurring on the industry, Indian e-commerce players have been presented with a golden opportunity. Indian e-commerce is set to achieve a 40 percent growth in 2020, as compared to 23 percent in 2019.
However, the impact of the pandemic is still being felt profoundly by businesses across verticals. For e-commerce brands, warehousing and the seasonal inventory may pose challenges. To understand and tackle warehousing challenges that arise during the festive season efficiently, let us delve deeper.
Efficient inventory management
With the festive season comes seasonal inventory and a heightened demand for it. E-commerce brands need to ensure that inventory is liquidated to cater to the growing demand. In addition to this, smart inventory management is necessary to increase efficiency.
In case of excess inventory, it is best to store it in 2-3 warehouses. The reason for this is that despite lock- down restrictions eased to a large extent, splitting inventory and storing it in different warehouses can help evade last-minute emergencies such as a locality being cordoned off as a red zone. Certain marketplaces may even place restrictions on warehouse movements and changes in the address, so it is safer to ensure that movement of goods happens well in advance. Also, making sure that you don’t experience stock-outs on in-demand items will improve customer satisfaction and increase customer retention and acquisition.
Insurance to safeguard inventory and staff
More often than not, e-commerce players either overlook the importance of inventory and staff insurance or they try to cut costs by not availing it. In case of an unfortunate turn of events, lack of insurance can prove to be a costly mistake and brands will end up paying a heavy price. Yet another reason to avail insurance for inventory is that the rise in demand means operational efficiency needs to be ramped up, leaving more room for packages to be handled roughly. So, ensure that all inventory is insured and is packed and sealed securely.
Apart from this, it is also advisable to avail COVID-19 insurance for all staff. This will be cost-efficient in the long run and at the same time, will safeguard the health and wellbeing of staff on the frontlines.
Warehouse management to meet the sudden surge in demand
To meet this growing demand for goods during the festive season, brands need to focus on the agility to scale up their operations. Amplifying warehouse capacity such as renting a temporary warehouse to cater to festive needs can be useful. Hiring temporary but dedicated delivery vans to enhance logistical operations will ensure timely delivery of goods and help to manage small scale B2B orders.
Warehousing can pose a major challenge during the country’s grand festive season and understanding how to tackle them as festivities begin can help brands save time and cost
Nakul Singh, Co-founder, ANS Commerce
Additionally, never compromise and cut costs on security. The festive season, as mentioned earlier, means more inventory being stored, increasing the chances of theft and pilferage of items if security is insufficient. Implementing robust security measures such as the installation of CCTV cameras amongst others can go a long way in alleviating the risk of theft. Smart, automated warehouse management is the ideal solution to avoid loss or damage to the goods.
Staff training plays a pivotal role
Last but not least, regardless of automated warehouses, staff, particularly those out on the field, play an instrumental role in the timely delivery of goods, safeguarding and handling of inventory, and overall efficiency. Amidst the crisis, providing staff with certified training in the best practices of hygiene and safety will go a long way in protecting them as well as customers. Never allowing safety measures to become lax or neglected will save a great deal of time and cost and eliminate the risk of infecting the entire warehouse staff. Posters, videos, and messages explaining the stringent guidelines to be maintained inside the premises can help newly trained staff catch on quicker.
The future of e-commerce is being redefined by brands and incorporating such simple measures can become a stepping stone for success, and add to sales and revenue during the festive season.