July 19, 2023

Peak Season is Coming — Are You Ready?

Holiday peak season will soon arrive, bringing with it the usual headaches caused by supply chain problems, labor shortages, and customer demands. It doesn't have to be this way. In this blog, learn how automation can erase many of your fears and get you ready for the next big surge.


It’s not uncommon for supply chain managers and operations directors to lose sleep this time of year. They should be out relaxing in the sun somewhere on a sandy beach but can’t stop imagining an incoming tidal wave that’ll land soon in the form of peak holiday season.

Even if your company is beating its year-over-year growth goals and fulfillment demands, what about the unforeseen? Like if the company executive board makes a surprise acquisition. Or supply chain problems erupt. Or that influencer pushing your products all over YouTube creating a massive surge in demand. Do we have the capacity to react and keep our promise dates?  What will our customers do if we don’t? And what on earth are we going to do next year?

Suddenly that sunny vacation turns overcast.

Waking up every morning with this weight on your shoulders is debilitating. But what if I told you that you could meet every bit of your peak line per-hour requirement while optimizing your warehouse space? What if I told you that you could have both of those things with industry leading cost per-unit shipped, industry-leading service levels, and a healthy balance between what purchasing asks you to stuff in the building and capacity to get it out the shipping door?

Your vacation would be relaxing, as it should.

Automation is the change you need to embrace and the path you need to take.

When is peak season?

Peak season in retail refers to a specific period of time when sales and customer activity are at their highest levels. This period is typically characterized by increased consumer demand, heightened promotional activities, and higher overall revenue for retailers. Peak season often corresponds to holidays, special events, or seasonal factors that influence consumer behavior and purchasing patterns.

The exact timing of peak season can vary depending on the retail sector and geographical location. However, some common examples of peak seasons in retail include:

  • Holiday Season: This usually refers to the period around major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year's. Many retailers experience a significant surge in sales during this time due to increased gift shopping and holiday preparations.
  • Back-to-School Season: This period occurs before the start of the school year and involves increased purchases of school supplies, clothing, and other related items. Retailers catering to students and parents often experience peak sales during this time.
  • Summer Season: For retailers in certain industries, such as swimwear, outdoor equipment, and vacation-related products, the summer season can be a peak time due to increased demand for summer-related items.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday: These two days, which fall immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, have become synonymous with significant sales and discounts. Many retailers offer exclusive deals during this period, resulting in a spike in consumer spending.

During peak seasons, retailers often ramp up their marketing efforts, expand their inventory, hire additional staff, and extend their operating hours to meet the increased demand. They may also offer special promotions, discounts, and incentives to attract more customers and drive sales. Effective inventory management and operational planning are crucial during peak season to ensure sufficient stock availability and smooth operations despite the higher volume of customer transactions.

How do I get my business automated in time for the next peak season?

While you might already be suffering in the middle of a sales peak, it's never too late to plan for the next one like the upcoming holiday season. It's a good time to start thinking about automation. Making an up-front ROI analysis is the first step. Find a consultant specializing in warehouse logistics, real estate, and automation technology to calculate your estimated savings you might find with space efficiency, SLA improvement, returns, accuracy, and uptime.  

At first, it may turn out that it’s not the right time for automation. That’s ok!  

Going through this exercise for both current and future-state provides a roadmap for planning the right time to switch and types and amounts of technology needed.

How do I make a business case to start the automation process?

If those gloomy thoughts about how to manage peak are interrupting your beach vacation, chances are you’ve already started the process. The justification is there. Armed with credible data to build your business case, your consultant needs to construct an argument for getting a capital budget approved. Here are a couple samples of what an investor presentation might include:

A business case presentation for an automated micro-fulfillment center

Once approved, you can move on to the design, construction, installation, and commissioning of your new system. Change can be difficult, but with the right training employees typically realize that an automated system provides better comfort and enables better productivity. On average, AutoStore users require around one hour or less of training before becoming proficient.

Best Buy, a consumer electronics and goods retailer, sat in the same seat a lot of companies are in right now.  Then they adopted AutoStore.

“Before we installed this warehouse automation system, everyone wanted to know what we were going to do to compete in the e-commerce space. People don’t ask that anymore, and we can focus on other things.”  

Rob Bass, Chief Supply Chain Officer


Whether your requirement is 500 lines per hour or 10,000+ lines per hour, there’s automation that will help you achieve your business objectives, increase bottom-line profitability, and make peaks to come feel like an average day.  Take the steps now to prepare for tomorrow like so many companies that were in your situation have done and get back to enjoying your summer.

Want to learn more about this topic?

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Want to learn more about this topic?

Talk to your local expert.
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Let's talk


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