A new approach to the challenges of seasonal inventory management in warehousing

7 February 2024

Cardboard boxes piled high in a warehouse due to over capacity Textured Image

Noel Hathorn , Head of Product

It’s the time of year for those working in the retail and manufacturing supply chain industry to reflect on their seasonal planning. How successful was 2023? What went well and what could be improved for 2024 and beyond?

It’s fair to say that seasonal demand is predictably unpredictable. And yet, seasonal events drive every aspect of the retail supply chain. From Easter eggs landing on the shelves before you can finish saying “Happy New Year!” to summer garden furniture filling the aisles in rainy February, retailers will push seasonal inventory out as soon as possible to free up their warehouses.

There’s also an incredible amount of expectation around Christmas, with a significant proportion of sales taking place in November and December. Vast quantities of stock are needed to meet this peak demand, so storage problems can quickly become exasperated when sales have underperformed or if there’s an unexpectedly high rate of stock returned after the festivities have ended.

Various factors can (and often do) lead to sluggish sales, from bad weather to high inflation hitting consumers’ spending power. 2023’s Christmas was a case in point, with UK retailers being lured into a false sense of hope after experiencing bumper profits in November only to find that sales fell by 3.2% in December. This led to many retailers starting their half-price sales early to get rid of their unsold stock.

As such, accurate forecasting for seasonal planning has become a bit of a guessing game. Even without the pain of unsold stock, plenty of other factors can lead to warehouses overflowing.

The rising risk of supply chain disruption from disasters like the Suez Canal or the current Red Sea crisis has pushed retailers towards stockpiling products.

There are even planned factors that lead to seasonal inventory being heaped up, such as the Chinese New Year supplier shutdown or when manufacturers offer rebates to incentivise the purchase of wholesale goods. Businesses will also want to be ready to make the most of seasonal opportunities, such as the coming Olympic Games or Euro 2024, when large electronics will likely sell well as consumers look to upgrade their audio-visual setup for watching the big sporting events.

In this article:

Temporary warehousing space without long-term commitments

Overflowing warehouses can leave businesses scrambling for solutions, such as expanding their current warehouses to alleviate cyclical capacity issues. However, this is an expensive and long-term commitment that doesn’t get to the route of the problem, which is fundamentally a lack of agility within retail supply chains.

But what if you could stockpile seasonal goods without having to expand? And what if you could procure this space on-demand and scale-up or down without needing accurate advance forecasts?

Visku specialises in handling last-minute storage needs, providing temporary storage space at short notice. However, the value of our short-term support is often just the starting point of a longer-term partnership that can unlock efficiencies deep within seasonal retail supply chains, from warehousing and storage to order fulfilment.

We offer the temporary space without long-term commitments. This flexibility can be built into your seasonal supply chain planning, knowing that you’ll be able to rely on a “pay as you need” service during peak periods. Viewing short-term leasing as part of your regular supply chain operation can lead to huge savings, with businesses reserving the same space for the same peak periods every year. This flexibility can become integral to your supply chain strategy, building in the agility needed to deal with unexpected stock fluctuations without tying up cashflow in operating large warehousing spaces.

We also give you access to a geographical network of flexible pallet storage based across the UK, allowing you to easily optimise where your warehouses are located on a SKU level, depending on where your manufactures and customers are based. Because of this flexibility, we can hold inventory for as long as you need before the stock is sent out directly to retailers. Ownership of the stock can even change hands from manufacturer to retailer without any need to move the stock. It can even be picked and shipped to the customer without ever having to travel back and forth from a distribution centre. This flexibility can allow you to reduce your network, dramatically bringing down your transportation milage to reduce costs and improve the sustainability of your whole operation.

We help businesses plan for the future

Our consultants have years of in-house experience and have delivered over 400 transformation projects. Our experts come from long careers within the warehousing and logistics industry. Their first-hand knowledge of the day-to-day complexities of supply chain management means they understand the intricate details and can quickly identify practical solutions to unlock quick-win savings. These savings can be used to invest in further opportunities for improvement.

We help businesses with their retail seasonal planning by reviewing the history of assortments, examining the stock’s lifetime journey, and providing data-driven recommendations on where savings can be made through the supply chain. With this information, we build virtual warehousing networks to unlock the power of physical supply chains. We also review seasonal sales trends and provide insights on which items are high and low risk, and where the biggest margin can be made. Our focus is on the details that matter, with a proven track record of dramatically reducing wasted spend while also uncovering opportunities for increasing profits, maximising growth, and helping customers to achieve their supply chain ambitions.

Visku helps businesses plan and find the flexible space they need.

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If you’d like to learn more contact us and our warehouse solutions experts will be in touch.

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Noel Hathorn , Head of Product


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