With more consumers shopping online than ever, the end-of-year peak season is crucial for e-commerce businesses. Despite accurate preparation, there will always be elements of supply and demand that are out of your control as a purchaser, also during your peak season. Read in our blog what the challenges are for the coming period and find a hands-on checklist to guide you on how to stay flexible and adapt to last-minute fluctuations during the peak season.

The challenges for this end-of-year peak season

From Halloween to Black Friday, all the way through Christmas there are multiple global end-of-year festive and sales days.

Your role as a purchaser is crucial to make this period successful by purchasing your most important products in the right quantities.

Visual peak season online shopping blog

Curious about which purchasing tasks you should focus on in and outside peak seasons? ind in the white paper 5 things you should spend your time on as a purchaser to make your contribution more strategic and valuable.

Peak season preparation

For your internal operations and planning, you must understand the impact of the peak season on your business. Even during the busiest period, your customers expect a big choice of products, quick delivery and a flawless shopping experience. For that reason product availability crucial. However, keep in mind that lead times increase in the run-up to peak season and that you will have to order the bulk of your most important products early.

Make sure you use forecasting methods from a data-driven purchasing module to predict future demand. Additionally, use an ABC analysis to get insights into the contribution of products to your business. And, secure the right budget for your peak-season purchases.

9 points to check if you are prepared for the peak season

Use the nine points below to check if you are well prepared for your peak season.

1. Shipping

Are you close up to the start of the peak season or in the middle? Choose shipping methods that take less time than freight. Using a containership is relatively slow and, therefore, more useful for orders that are planned ahead of time.

2. Collaboration

Combine forces with other teams in your business to make an impact. Work together with sales about which products to push and check with the marketing team if the campaigns are all set.

3. Excess Stock

Stock that exceeds customer and forecasted demand is considered excess stock. Avoid that cash gets tied up in excess stock and use Black Friday for example as a way to sell these products at a discount. Or, when you notice after the peak season that you have excess stock, try to shift the products in a January sales period.

4. Discounts

In case a specific supplier you are relying on can not handle the demand then do not discount the products you purchase from this supplier. The potential spike in sales that discounting can result in, will lead to stockouts and lost sales.

5. Lead times

Focus on working with short lead times during the peak season to stay flexible in the supply chain and ensure product availability to fulfil customer demand.

6. Suppliers

Get to know if your suppliers can handle the total demand. How big are you for your suppliers? You can expect better deals in case you are a big client but it will make you less flexible as you probably purchase already a lot of the supplier’s stock.

7. Replenishment

During the peak season, you can adjust only by a smaller margin and will have to work closely with your – local – suppliers if you need to restock. Working with an automated purchasing tool like Optiply means that you know in real-time what you need to restock and can avoid facing stockouts.

8. Backorders

Backorders can quickly increase in the high season, as there will be more demand from your customers. Keep your backorders under control and your customers satisfied by making sure that you deliver these products within an agreed delivery time.

9. Evaluation

Plan an evaluation after the high season, to see what you can do better for next year. This evaluation can also feed into your procurement plan for next year. Only with good preparation, you will be able to purchase the right products at the right time with the right supplier and for the right price.

Curious about which purchasing tasks you should focus on in and outside peak seasons? ind in the white paper 5 things you should spend your time on as a purchaser to make your contribution more strategic and valuable.

Stay flexible during your peak season

Not every e-commerce business has its peak period at the end of the year. Additionally, not every e-commerce business will join in on mass consumption events like Black Friday as it can put margins under pressure or does not match with sustainability goals. Knowing your market and consumer behaviour can help you to prioritise and purchase the right products at the right time. Analyse any challenges within your supply chain, analyse your supplier performance and optimise your stock. Stay on top of things, keep close ties with your suppliers, and switch shipping methods when needed. As a purchaser, use data-driven tools that show you how to manage your stock and allow you to operate flexibly during the peak season.


Optimise your purchasing with Optiply

Curious how your e-commerce business can optimise stock with innovative purchasing software? Book your demo now. Within 30 minutes you will know how AI and forecasting models make your purchasing operations less time-consuming to allow you to focus on more strategic tasks.