With the some $631 billion in-store sales and an additional $105 billion in online sales that the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects American families to spend this November and December, your warehouse is likely to eat, sleep and breathe holiday sales for the next several weeks.

In fact, you may have already noticed an influx in your inventory demands. That could be because some 57 percent of folks begin buying for the upcoming holidays in early November, according to the NRF’s latest consumer spending survey.

Of course, a great many of those families are buying on one day: Black Friday.

Retailers who are to be successful on one of the busiest shopping days of the entire year are dependent on their warehouse counterparts to keep things buttoned up.

warehouse black friday preparation

Scottish Warehouse (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Y. Kohno)

Preparing and readying your warehouse, inventory and staff ahead of time are essential before the critical mass that is Black Friday descends upon us. Here are a few suggestions to get the ‘front of house’ ready to meet increased demands this holiday season.

Review Sales Data for Proper Stock Placement

Stock that is guaranteed to fly off the shelves needs to hitch a ride to the front of the picking area. To determine what stock needs to get moved around for easy shipping, spend some time reviewing sales data from previous years.

Assess Your Staffing Needs

Due to holiday travel, you may have less staff than normal to man your warehouse operations on Black Friday. To circumvent a possible bottleneck in picking or shipping, check to make sure you are equipped with enough staff to fulfill your influx of orders. If a shortage looks possible, contact staffing agencies in advance to secure additional temporary workers.

The same goes for critical teams outside your warehouse walls like delivery companies. If you trust the service you’re currently with, reach out and inquire about their staffing levels and make the switch ahead of time if necessary.

Organize Your Warehouse in Advance

After you’ve moved stock around and addressed any possible staffing shortages, it’s time to do a little spring-cleaning to avoid delays in fulfillment due to disorganization. Developing a more efficient system can also help you keep a more accurate record of what inventory is actually in stock. One hidden box or missing item is a sale that could otherwise be realized. Try creating proper labels when inventory gets moved and grouping like items together.

Test Your Warehouse Technology

Having your barcode scanners or Internet of Things (IoT) technology fail on the busiest day of the year can spell disaster for your order fulfilling abilities. Checking and testing these essential warehouse management technologies in advance can help ensure you’re fully connected enough to meet the increased demands.

Make a Game Plan with Your Team

Even with all the testing and advanced planning, there could be some unexpected situations that ultimately go awry. Having a back up plan in place, and communicating that to your team will help ensure a smooth transition from Black Friday madness to the elevated holiday rush.

Assess Inventory Levels

While this may seem like a no brainer, a key step in any order fulfillment process is making sure your inventory records are both accurate and up to date. Ideally, you’ll have detailed information about every product you have in stock as well as the total quantity for each.

Though most of us would much rather spend Black Friday nursing our swollen turkey bellies and lounging with family, the maddening capitalist pastime that is Black Friday rests for no one– especially not the warehouse. Fortunately, with a little advanced planning and foresight you’ll be able to effectively run a tight ship and fulfill orders with unprecedented smoothness this Black Friday.