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If you’ve been through a peak season with a 3PL, you’re probably no stranger to the term “forecasts.” If you’ve been through a rough peak, the term “forecast” might even strike fear into your heart. But don’t be afraid. When used correctly, forecasts are a powerful tool for planning and getting through what is typically the busiest time of the year.
Forecasts are used by Dotcom Distribution as the foundation to plan and efficiently support programs throughout the peak shipping season. Really, forecasts are essential no matter the season. But during peak forecasts are critical for planning the labor and the movement of every item that needs to be received, put away, picked, packed and shipped.
That’s why Dotcom Distribution seeks daily order and unit forecasts from all of our partners. And it’s crucial that the forecast not just be an average of the total number of orders and units across a time period, or a straight percentage increase over the prior year. The most beneficial forecasts take into account order fluctuation resulting from promotions, sales, and other events in the marketing calendar. Forecasts aren’t flat lines, but rise and dip with the ebb and flow with historical patterns and consumer behavior.
Because planning for the next peak season begins almost as soon as the prior season ends, think about how your forecasts can be refined to estimate the most accurate reflection of orders and units during your next peak season. All forecasts help Dotcom’s analytics and operations teams better design and refine a program.
Getting an early start on the forecast will allow time for it to be defined and discussed with Dotcom during the weekly check ins and the monthly meetings. When verified by all stakeholders, the forecast will be loaded into Dotcom’s warehouse management system. The forecast then becomes a vital and dynamic element of the peak planning matrix that includes not just labor planning, but the flexible labor scheduling that Dotcom now offers to its warehouse staff and associates, and the possible re-slotting of fast moving items for efficient picking.