How to be prepared ahead of peak events in 2020

By | 3 minute read | January 13, 2020

The beginning of a new year traditionally signals a period of reflection. Businesses emerging from a busy holiday season certainly have a lot to think about as they review 2019 results. Now is the time to turn their attention to opportunities for supply chain growth in 2020.

In 2019, participants in the IBM Sterling Holiday and Event Readiness program* were able to flawlessly glide through intense peak periods both in November and December. Clients noting they “were hands off,” had “great success this year with zero issues” and were “simply rockin’ it.” Many of our supply chain clients also reported a 20-50% increase year-to-year in peak order volume and sales dollars.

Outcomes like this don’t just happen. This is the result of being prepared all year long. And when it comes to holiday and event preparedness, it pays to play the long game. We asked our the supply chain experts who manage our Event Readiness program for their top tips. Hopefully you can take action today to build a solid foundation for the year ahead:

  • Set growth goals as soon as possible. Conduct a comprehensive review of your results from the previous year. Did you meet or exceed your goals, or is there room for improvement? Set a clear benchmark for the volumes you want to achieve in 2020 and use this as the basis for developing resource and staffing plans for the next holiday cycle. Maybe you’re anticipating more call center users or plan to expand your footprint in store. The important part is to lay the groundwork now to make sure your platforms can grow to accommodate those parts of the business, or to add the new capabilities necessary to achieve this year’s business goals.
  • Make an event readiness budget a cornerstone of your IT strategy. Tackling the topic of budget for holiday and event readiness needs to happen early in or in the beginning the planning process. Anticipating this extra level of expertise should be considered a best practice for any business navigating peak retail periods. Allocate a dedicated budget for holiday and event readiness and make it an integral piece of your 2020 IT strategy. This will guarantee you have funding available to bring in additional resources as needed for holiday and event support. If an issue arises, readiness partners can be brought in quickly without the added stress of scrambling for last minute business approvals.
  • Take stock of anticipated peaks and test readiness plans on trusted platforms. As you emerge from a major peak period like the winter holidays and begin thinking about initiatives for the new year, you may find that you have technical debt. This can present an issue if you lack the time and resources to resolve development issues and get platforms up to speed ahead of the next peak. The cost and risk associated with not addressing potential problems is high – making it critical to continuously align business and IT during pre-peak lockdown periods and directly following them. When mapping out your IT strategy for the year, ensure that plans are built on the latest IT releases and with the anticipated business peaks top of mind. Then test, test and test again to confirm your systems will be able to handle your target volumes.
  • Communicate – early and often, up and down. One of the most effective ways to get ahead of challenges is to hold timely discussions on any potential issues, as a group, and maintain transparency around how they can be resolved. And not just during peak periods, but well ahead of and following them. Encouraging continuous communication year-round between executive management and technology teams aligns everyone to a common goal, monitors progress against key milestones and helps surface and address any issues before there is a need to escalate them.

Explore some of the top retail trends for 2020 and how to stay ahead of the competition.

*IBM’s Event Readiness program helps brands proactively identify areas of vulnerability and prevent crises caused by unexpected, high-volume traffic events. Ensure your team delivers the perfect order during your next big event.