Peak Season Optimisation for Wholesale Distributors to Streamline and Scale


Among interest rate rises and continued inflation, 2022 has created an uncertain peak sales period.

But for wholesale distributors, careful preparation can help you increase stock turn, minimise shipping and fulfilment times, and be the preferred supplier for your customers.

Get the ideas on how to:

➡️ Build better processes that support fast scaling
➡️ Optimise inventory and reduce stock-outs
➡️ Take a proactive approach and get customers ordering early
➡️ Manage customer expectations with improved communication
➡️ Cut down the learning curve for temporary resources and build consistent processes

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    Peak Season Preparation

    Start your engines!

    The peak season is a competitive race that challenges many businesses’ operations.

    This season, there’s added pressure for wholesalers and online retailers alike. The D2C (direct to consumer) channel is intensifying as brands uncover new ways to reach customers. In 2020, for example, the US experienced 46% D2C growth. And in just ten years, Nike’s D2C model has grown from contributing 13.5% to 33.1%, nearly a third of its total revenue.

    Demand is also growing. The Australian eCommerce market is now the eleventh largest in the world and seeing 15.5% year-on-year growth. On top of lingering supply chain issues, it may lead to more challenges ahead.

    The lead-up to peak season (generally October to January) always puts distributors and online retailers into overdrive, and this year will be no exception. With mounting pressure from D2C brands, continued supply chain disruption, and increasing demand, those who aren’t prepared could end up with a flat tyre during the race.

    D2C Growth Statstic YoY eCommerce Growth

    However, the following peak season checklist will help you prepare and be in pole position for the buzz of activity ahead.


    Scaling Your Seasonal Resources

    Seasonal resourcing is a necessity for wholesalers, distributors and retailers. More resources help scale, but they can also be like a chicane on the race track, slowing things down at pivotal points.

    When scaling your resources, note the successes and challenges from the previous years’ temporary resource hiring. Did you see increased picking error rates, for example? Could you reduce these rates by hiring more experienced staff or investing more in training and management? By understanding the improvements needed from the previous year, you can identify more effective ways to scale while minimising potential problems.

    Another way to scale resources quickly is to equip them with intuitive technology. Far too often, temporary resources are handed clunky, outdated devices that come with a steep learning curve. The more familiar the technology, the faster your resources will pick it up. Cloud-based warehousing and retail solutions, for example, now have intuitive user interfaces and are accessible from mobile and tablet devices. Systems with role-based access and logical process flows also help your staff see only the information they need and quickly understand the next steps to take.


    Demand forecasting and scenario planning

    During the lead-up to peak season, optimising stock based on trends and changes is essential. Over ordering can result in price reductions and post-season sales to run out excess inventory. Conversely, under ordering can leave customers waiting until after peak season to receive stock. Demand forecasting, however, can help get the balance right.

    Scaling Seasonal Resources with NetSuite

    By using historical data, trends and patterns can be uncovered and used to predict future demand fluctuations. This data helps identify the commitments needed for different product lines. It’s crucial to take note of these variations and adjust accordingly to optimise inventory.

    Also, take note of short-term trends, particularly where lockdowns or eased restrictions may be impacting the usual demand. For example, in Victoria, Australia, the peak season shifted in 2020. 36% of the year’s online retail purchases happened between July to October due to lockdowns. eCommerce orders for the state actually declined in November and December. It’s a stark reminder that anything can happen – and sometimes does. While it’s essential to look at yearly trends, it’s also beneficial to consider demand and scenario planning.

    Demand planning uses forecast data and additional data like distribution, inventory location, supply plans, and more to turn forecasts into action plans. Cloud ERP systems like NetSuite bring robust demand planning functionality. Specific parameters can be set, right down to item level, with several planning methods available such as seasonal average, moving average, and sales forecast. Additionally, automated notifications can be sent to the relevant staff to ensure purchase orders, transfer orders, and orders are executed on time.

    Breakout Quote



    Take the lead and help everyone win the race

    When the busy period for your business is coming, it’s sure to be just as busy for customers. Whether you’re a wholesaler, manufacturer, or online retailer, taking the lead can help you and your customers.

    Use demand forecasting and order history data to report on which customers increase product line orders at which times. Then, start reaching out. With a CRM (customer relationship management) system that’s integrated with your sales and inventory systems, it’s easy to run reports on whom to target. You can then build task and action lists, automate emails and follow-up reminders, and a whole lot more.

    CRM manages your contacts but also tracks and manages communications with customers. It gives you a complete history of conversations through all touchpoints – from customer service to sales and account management. Segmentation also plays a critical role in making communications easier. For example, segmenting contacts by those who order over a certain amount can help sales teams proactively target high-value customers.

    By reporting, segmenting, and automating activity, you can take the lead and see more customer orders coming in ahead of the peak season race.


    Great expectations call for proactive communication

    Winning the Retail Race

    Delayed shipping was a recurring theme in 2020. Supply chain issues, warehouse social distancing restrictions, and various other issues created setbacks around the globe. These factors made a lot of irritation for those at the end of the supply chain. As revealed in The Canberra Times, Australia Post received a 70 per cent increase in delivery complaints in 2020, with 30 per cent of those related to delays in delivery. Of course, some delays are unforeseeable and unavoidable. You can, however, avoid unnecessary frustration from your customers with proactive communication.

    Manually checking and updating every customer on order statuses would be an impossible task for most companies. Thankfully, we’re in the age of automation. Cloud-based ERP systems like NetSuite can integrate with shipping providers such as Australia Post. Tracking numbers can be automatically tied to fulfilment records, orders and invoices to create end-to-end shipping and delivery visibility. Customer notifications can also be set to trigger as order updates happen, in real-time, ensuring you’re always a step ahead.

    It’s also vital to update customers with shipping cut-off times, particularly as the peak season draws closer. Email and SMS are effective ways to communicate and set expectations with customers. These notifications can also be automated using a cloud ERP system with email campaign management and SMS integration.


    Automate for peak performance

    Many growing businesses struggle with how to scale quickly. When you’re ramping up operations for peak season, the issue can quickly compound. The amount of time your company spends on low-value, manual tasks can hamper its ability to focus on strategic, revenue-generating initiatives.

    When bringing temporary resources on board, automated processes can also reduce the learning curve and training needed. It additionally builds consistency into processes to minimise the risk of human error.

    Proactive Communication in RetailThe real value of Cloud ERP systems is their ability to automate repetitive tasks throughout supply chain, finance, sales and marketing, and more. You can set minimum and maximum reorder points, for example, to ensure stock stays at optimal levels. Support functions such as case management, issue tracking, warranty registration and repair can also be automated. The list goes on with countless other ways to do more with fewer resources, reduce errors and manual workload, and build better process consistency. Read more about how a NetSuite ERP system can automate tasks across the business.


    Use technology to gain a competitive advantage

    Systems can be the main limitation for many companies wanting to improve operations. It’s common to add single-use systems to the mix over time. Often, these systems don’t talk to each other. They lead to disjointed processes and can create silos throughout the business. For example, sales follow one process, finance follows another, and so on. Internal communications can quickly break down without visibility or understanding of what’s happening across the business. Process complexity also puts the breaks on when operations need to scale quickly.

    ERP software is one type of business technology that is helping businesses to:

    • Scale operations rapidly with an intuitive under interface and process consistency at its core
    • More accurately predict stock demand with forecasting and planning functionality
    • Build proactive sales processes with in-built CRM
    • Enable better communications with shipment tracking integration and automated customer notifications
    • Operate in peak performance with reduced errors, automation of manual tasks, and robust process consistency


    What is an ERP system?

    ERP software (Enterprise Resource Planning) isn’t exactly a memorable acronym. The outcomes it creates, however, aren’t easily forgotten. ERP is essentially business management software that brings all core operations into a central platform. This centralisation brings real-time transparency across all business operations, leading to faster, more accurate decision-making. A cloud ERP system will also enable rapid scalability, make your entire workforce mobile, and introduce advanced automation to help you operate more profitably.


    How does ERP work?

    ERP provides one back-end platform that brings together all core business functions. One business application manages inventory, CRM, sales and marketing, project management, HR, and more. Cloud ERP options can also connect seamlessly via API to any external system while still building the one source of truth for all critical business data. See our 90-second explainer video about ERP systems for more information.


    Start Your Engines

    Start your engines for a competitive peak season ahead.

    Take note of the successes and challenges from the previous years’ temporary resource hiring. Then, identify improvements needed from the previous year and build better processes that support fast scaling.

    Use historical data, trends and patterns to optimise stock. Get levels right before the rush to minimise stock-outs and ensure you’re not left with stock to put on sale after the busy period. Leverage your forecasting and historical data to know with which customers to start early ordering conversations. Use action lists to stay on track and take a proactive approach in reaching out.

    Manage customer expectations with improved communications. Let them know shipping cut-off times as the peak season draws closer and keep them up-to-date with changes. Finally, look at reducing the learning curve for temporary resources and build consistency into processes to minimise the errors and get everything running smoothly. With the right processes and systems in place, you’ll be able to streamline operations and scale with speed.

    To learn more about how ERP technology can help you deliver better results this peak season, talk to an ERP expert now.

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