black friday supply chain strategy

The metrics that matter for your Black Friday supply chain strategy in 2021

By Tom Summerfield on September 14, 2020

2020 posed an untold number of challenges to retailers, and supply chain teams have felt the full force of this impact. Customer behavior was already changing before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, which has further accelerated things like e-commerce adoption and ever-increasing customer expectations. 

(Article updated 6 January 2021.) As we enter a new year, businesses now need a new way of managing increasingly complex supply chains in order to fulfill their customers’ needs. From speaking to some of our own retail customers, one of the main focuses when it comes to hectic trading periods like the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is being able to get orders out of the door as quickly and efficiently as possible. As we approach yet another turbulent year for retailers, this is going to be more important than ever. 

You probably feel like Black Friday 2020 has only just been and gone, but we’d generally recommend starting your preparations for the next one more or less a year in advance! If you could do with a helping hand for Black Friday 2021, we’ve pulled together a handy list of some of the key metrics that your supply chain team needs to be focusing on in order to make a success of this crucial weekend. 

Presenting the metrics that matter for your Black Friday supply chain strategy in 2021…

Fundamentals: Day-to-day metrics

  • Average daily pack wait time
  • Cost-per-minute and daily pack wait time cost
  • Average wave closure time
  • Cost-per-minute of wave
  • Average pick time and number of picks of hour
  • Average sort time
  • Average time between picks
  • Put-away time
  • Throughput per item

Key indicators: Mid-level metrics

  • Picks per person, per hour
  • Wave planning
  • Pick and pack efficiency
  • Pick face optimization
  • Distribution resource planning
  • Put-away strategy
  • Zone planning
  • Workforce planning
  • Truckload utilization
  • Transport planning
  • Pick-route planning
  • Mis-service
  • Adherence to customer SLAs and service upgrades
  • Capacity and utilization planning
  • Cost per wave
  • Operational downtime
  • Returns planning and reverse logistics
  • Time to receiving and pick location

Strategic: High-level management metrics

  • Cost per item
  • Item throughput
  • Total order numbers
  • Expedited service
  • Cost of mis-service and unfilled orders
  • Increased return on capital employed (ROCE)

Win in these areas, and you win the Black Friday battle

Ideally, your supply chain, operations and logistics teams will already be tracking the majority of these metrics, exploring the different areas and processes you can optimize in order to get those Black Friday orders out of the door as efficiently as possible. If not, there are a number of ways artificial intelligence (AI) and a more intelligent view of business-wide data can help to make your Black Friday supply chain strategy highly effective. 

At Peak, we’re working with brands like ASOS to shape warehousing and supply chain strategies across Black Friday and beyond. From maximizing truck capacity to optimizing wave planning and pick face processes, AI can play a crucial role in ensuring you’re meeting your OTIF requirements and keeping your customers happy at this important time of year.

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