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Omnichannel Fulfillment

[Peak Shipping Season Awaits] Top 3 Actions to Take During Your Supply Chain Compression Testing

Learn how to fully prepare for this year’s peak season with compression testing.

Practice makes perfect – isn’t that what they say? Just as practice is crucial for finally mastering a new skill, production testing and simulations are key for refining your supply chain performance, especially in preparation for a busy upcoming peak shipping season. 

Supply chain compression testing allows brands to practice and replicate the challenges that can come up during times of high demand. By exposing not only your operational processes but your technology stack to peak season simulations, companies gain valuable insights into strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require improvement. The repeatable nature of testing allows brands to learn from multiple cycles, identifying both bottlenecks and strengths to duplicate. 

Throughout these testing processes, companies can make changes on the go to refine strategies, fine-tune processes, and execute data-driven decisions to enhance performance. With each new round of testing, the supply chain operations become better equipped to handle the demands of peak season efficiently. 

While it’s impossible to have a perfect supply chain, practice – or compression testing in this case – will help optimize your current tech stack and supply chain operations. Dive into these three key actions to assess your current supply chain performance with compression testing and prepare you for success in this year’s peak season.

Simulations and stress testing your supply chain

This important first step is all about modeling different scenarios of what could happen to stress your operations and enterprise software stack to replicate the conditions expected during peak season. This can include everything from increased order volumes, capacity constraints, physical warehouse issues, to labor or workforce bottlenecks, and other relevant simulations. By inputting these compression stress tests under a variety of different scenarios, it is easier to identify operational inefficiencies or disjointed information between the software within your tech stack. 

Compression testing involves pushing your supply chain, software and all, to its limits. Performing this testing will help your team evaluate the overall performance of your supply chain under extreme conditions. 

The best way to stress test is by holding back order fulfillment and attempting to work as close to peak conditions as possible to fulfill them. For example, if you want to see if you can fulfill 10,000 orders per hour, this may mean that in the off-season, you must hold fulfillment until noon. No one picks, no one prints, no one does anything to progress these orders. Training is held, and personnel are appointed to take notes. At the designated time, all hands and all systems operate as if it were peak, attempting to fill all the orders that are being “compressed” into that hour and seeing how close we can get to optimal performance.

By compressing down to a single hour, or day, a warehouse has the ability to quickly catch up after the compression testing is complete. This should have minimal impact on current customers while providing valuable feedback to a company – especially if post mortems are held, and feedback is funneled up the chain of command.

Analyzing the performance of your supply chain

Once a company has started the simulations and compression testing, the next action is to dive into the results of that testing. Start with a thorough analysis of the simulation results to grade and evaluate performance. While each business will have unique benchmarks for assessing operations, key performance indicators (KPIs) like delivery times, inventory levels, and a variety of shipping costs (Something Missing, fulfillment, accessorials, etc.) will help track wins and losses to remain proactive in your approach to the peak season ahead. [Learn more about Parcel Shipping KPIs to monitor]

While no expert can be 100% accurate with predicted supply chain disruptions, this kind of compression testing will prepare your supply chain with the knowledge of how to adjust when necessary. 

For example, if a brand invests a considerable effort into automation and personnel training, they may find out that their WMS can only communicate enough information to fulfill 5,000 orders per hour rather than the 10,000 order goal.  Last peak, this company could only fulfill 2,500 orders per hour, so this may be acceptable based on other factors. While this may mean an urgent change – though less urgent than trying to make a change during peak – it may mean that the company must plan to change the WMS prior to the next peak season. Either way, this brand will go into peak with a better understanding of where their system will bend and where it will break. They will have confidence that their investment in improvements has had the expected effect.

Actionable insight to enhance the supply chain

Once you’ve done a thorough analysis of the results of your compression testing, the next step is to identify optimization strategies and the next courses of action for bottlenecks, data disconnect, or other challenges. These strategies and adjustments could involve a variety of modifications…

Adjusting inventory levels at different fulfillment locations 

  • Do we need more fulfillment sources?

Optimizing transportation routes 

  • Do we need new carriers that can cover a specific zip code?

Business rule rework

  • Did the business rules commissioned meet your needs, or should they be modified prior to rolling into peak?  Did the new pick plan work as expected?
  • Is the data able to flow fast enough between your conveyor system, multi-carrier shipping software, and WMS?

Enhancing warehouse operations

  • Do we need more space for our regional carrier shipments because we will be giving them more volume?

The ability to turn these practice scenarios and compression testing sessions into actionable insight will help brands improve overall efficiency and meet customer demand – after all, these customer expectations change from year to year and if your delivery experience isn’t keeping pace, your customer satisfaction will drop. 

Finally, one thing to note is that brands that are shipping thousands (to millions) of packages during peak season should be completing this stress testing annually, and with enough time to implement changes should they be necessary. This type of continuous improvement and repeated testing helps refine results and can be adjusted based on new relevant data or forecasts from industry experts. By implementing a continuous improvement strategy, brands can proactively address issues, enhance agility and resilience, and ensure peak shipping readiness.

These three actions together provide a systematic approach to compression testing to prepare a brand’s supply chain during the upcoming peak shipping seasons, identify areas of improvement, and optimize operations to meet customer demands efficiently.

How a multi-carrier shipping solution prepares brands for their best peak season ever

Just as practice helps individuals refine their skills, supply chain compression testing builds the resilience and flexibility of the supply chain. It allows brands to anticipate challenges, address them, and retest to continually improve operations. Supply chain compression testing enables companies to better meet customer demands, reduce shipping costs by injecting efficiencies into operational processes, and maximize overall performance during peak shipping season this year.

However, no peak season preparedness plan is complete without an automated and robust multi-carrier shipping software. This software solution is the workhorse of your supply chain, facilitating omnichannel fulfillment strategies and inventory management through an OMS, pushing the right customer data through an e-commerce tool, or even enabling automation to alleviate warehouse tasks with a WMS. With so much data flowing through this shipping software, it’s crucial to find a solution that is as robust and flexible as your complex supply chain needs require.

[DECODING THE DATA] Using Peak Season Lessons to Build the Case for Shipping Software

If your analysis is full of areas that need improvement regarding your shipping software, look to the industry-leading shipping solution from ProShip to boost your supply chain savings, eliminate overspending on fees, cultivate a positive customer experience and provide a solid ROI in just months. Contact our shipping experts today to discover how ProShip can improve the way your company ships parcel to simplify peak season 2023 and those still to come!