Seasonality and Supply Chain Management: A Memoir

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Many people expect supply chain issues during the winter holidays. However, supply chain issues may vary by season–and there may be more of them than you expect. Not only have more people and businesses than ever become aware of potential supply chain challenges throughout 2021, when Covid-related disruptions have caused challenges across the globe, there are other supply chain issues you may need to consider as you prepare your business–and your supply chain–for the year ahead.

Holidays, Seasonality, & Supply Chain Challenges

The Chinese New Year historically causes delays for many businesses. During the Chinese New Year, many big factories and businesses shut down for an estimated 7-10 days. As a result, businesses end up scrambling to get the supplies that they need moving into their businesses during those critical days. 

Other major challenges that you must work into your supply chain planning include:

  • Normal winter delays, including heavy snow and ice across parts of the country. Increasing climate change patterns may make it difficult to manage those supply chain disruptions.
  • Hurricane season, which runs between June 1 and November 30 can make it more difficult to move goods across the ocean.
  • The winter holiday season, including Thanksgiving (with associated Black Friday shopping challenges) and Christmas.

In addition, you must take into consideration the goods that spike in popularity during specific times of the year.

Springtime Demands

In the spring, more people are looking for running shoes and athletic wear, hiking backpacks, summer dresses, and travel accessories. Furthermore, people are more likely to buy patio furniture, lawn tools, bikes, and sporting equipment intended for outdoor use. Grills and grill accessories may become more popular.

Summer Trends

During the summer months, people start looking for beach gear. They’re stocking up on outdoor equipment. There is a higher demand for pool games, pool toys, and, of course, pools in general. Furthermore, people are still cooking outside, and they’re looking for the goods that will make it possible–including charcoal, barbecue tools, and more.

Fall Products

As autumn rolls in, many buyers are looking for school supplies. Kids’ clothes and shoes sell more rapidly. Buyers may look into hiking and camping equipment, but not with the same enthusiasm that they would in the summer months. Furthermore, some of the high-demand items that customers buy a lot more of during the winter season–including toys–will increase in popularity.

Winter Sales

Most inventory-based businesses know that they must  increase their inventory in the early winter months, especially leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Demand for toys, holiday decor, and a variety of other items, including electronics, increases dramatically. Preparing ahead of time for that demand can help put many businesses in a much better position to navigate those sales and the demands of their consumers.

Preparing for the Changing Seasons & How They Impact Supply Demands

Inventory management is critical–and the supply chain challenges suffered throughout 2020 and 2021 have made it increasingly obvious that it’s essential for businesses to stay on top of those challenges. Consumers are shopping earlier for the things they know they really need, because they worry about those items disappearing before they have a chance to buy them. 

How can you prepare for increased demand?

Learn more about navigating shipping delays

1. Make sure you have the right supply chain planning solution

An effective supply chain planning solution helps you manage many of the challenges often associated with inventory management. Not only can it help you keep up with changes in global supply chains, including delays like the Lunar New Year or even the challenges often posed by hurricane season–or the winter holidays–your supply chain management platform can help you keep up with times when inventory demand increases for your business.

2. Get to know your products & your customers

Supply planning is unique to your business. Another business may not need to keep the same inventory on hand that you do. Your customers have unique needs and unique buying habits.

Get to know them. Know who they are, what they need, and when they’re most likely to turn to your business. Get to know your peak times. Test and adjust inventory accordingly until you have a solid understanding of exactly what your customers need most. Then, you can build resilience into your system so that you can address potential challenges and keep your supply chain moving smoothly.

3. Plan well ahead

Due to global supply chain disruptions, you cannot afford to leave your inventory planning until the last minute. Plan for major increases in demand. Track trends. Know where your inventory is coming from and, ideally, how you’ll manage it if a delay occurs, or demand shifts suddenly. Have contingency plans in place. Platforms like Stock IQ can help you identify potential solutions for your inventory challenges, but planning ahead can put you in a great position to implement fast. 

4. Consider your real needs

Try to avoid hoarding–a trap that businesses can fall into just as easily as individuals. If you start hoarding resources, especially if you do not have adequate storage, you may end up inadvertently stocking too many items that will not have an indefinite shelf life–especially if you deal in perishable goods. Make sure you’re taking your business’s real needs–and those of your customers–under consideration as you plan your inventory. 

5. Stock in advance when you can

Some items, you cannot stock up on in advance, because their shelf life isn’t long enough to support it. Many items, however, you can have in your warehouses, back rooms, and stores well before demand increases, which can make it easier for you to plan for potential disruptions and avoid disappointing your customers. 

Dealing with supply chain disruptions feels increasingly difficult to many businesses. Fortunately, you do not have to manage them alone. Contact us today to learn more about our supply chain management solutions and how they can benefit your business.

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