Posted by Guru Rao

If your downstream holiday supply chain were a Christmas movie, would it be more “Miracle on 34th Street” or “The Nightmare Before Christmas?”

According to the National Retail Federation, 2017’s retail sales figures are expected to land somewhere between $678.75 billion to $682 billion in value, which is 3.6 to 4 percent more than last year, and represents an all-time high. By that logic, a “Jingle All the Way”-type scenario might be more apt. Only, instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad racing to find a Turbo Man doll before Christmas, we envision a month-long race to fulfill on-time orders, followed by another week of reverse logistics.


The 4 pains of the holidays

Downstream operations during the holiday season are unique for four reasons:

1. Lead time: Manufacturers and carriers alike need to allocate resources early (hopefully you’ve already started). Even then, predicting lead time is not an exact science, and things can go wrong at the last minute. This puts both supply chain and fleet managers in the position of needing to react swiftly and strategically to disruptions.

2. Weather: Meteorologists are already predicting a cold, snowy season ahead in the Great Lakes region, the American Northwest and the East Coast, according to USA Today. Winter is coming, and it will call upon every route optimization resource you have available to manage delivery routes by exception.  

3. Omnichannel: This holiday shopping season isn’t just historic because of the predicted revenue. With each passing year, customer expectations shift, and the majority of consumers expect convenience on their terms. Deliveries will be made from distribution centers to stores, distribution centers to customers’ homes, stores to customers, stores to different stores to be picked up by customers, and so on an so forth. There will be a lot of orders coming in from multiple shopping channels. So many touch points, so little time.

4. Returns: Then there’s reverse logistics. Every year, holiday returns cost retailers billions of dollars according to CNBC. Managing those returns requires additional route optimization efforts, especially for retailers. According to Wired, many retailers will identify the most profitable path for these post-holiday returns, whether that’s bundling them in wholesale offers, selling them online, recycling the materials or more simply just sending them to the landfill. The tricky part is baking that new tributary into your logistics network in such a way that returns cause little-to-no disruption to your supply chain as they move back upstream – or laterally to some other final destination.

holiday season 2

Weathering the storm with your current resources

“nuDeliverIt leads the way by optimizing current resource utilization.”

Granted, this is hardly anyone’s first holiday retail blitz, but clearly there’s a perfect storm brewing this season – and even that could change at a moment’s notice. The trick to keeping your fleet managers’ Yuletide sprits high is to give them a cost-efficient, easily implemented delivery tracking tool that helps maximize the efficiency of their current resources.

nuDeliverIt is sort of like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but for your supply chain. And instead of a shiny nose, it leads the way with algorithms that optimize last-mile delivery logistics. Even when your supply stream is flowing in multiple directions simultaneously (out to customers, back to distribution centers, or off to the dump), the mobile application is designed to minimize touch points and maximize route efficiency.

And the best part? It fits in your stocking.


How to keep your fleet managers sane this holiday season