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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

Christmas S&OP - Santa & Opening Presents

Posted by Dave Jordan on Fri, Dec 18, 2020

Well, what a year it has been. As 2020 stutters and stumbles to the end we all need to think about how our Supply Chains will operate in 2021 and beyond. Just like those old school photographs, your steady-state, stable 2018 set-up has gone and will never return.

In January 2021 we will start to look at what you can do to accommodate the new reality brought about by COVID-19 and how Supply Chains must seamlessly link with your Route To Market challenges. Until then, let’s have a look at a Supply Chain never rated by Gartner….

Yes, the festive period is fast approaching and the biggest and best Supply Chain is almost ready to deploy. There is no way Santa Claus could achieve his/her annual success without sticking rigidly to an established Sales & Operational Planning process, i.e. Santa & Opening Presents.

The process starts every year on the 26th December just as children start to play with the empty packaging instead of their much sought after gifts. Their engorged parents lounge sleepily in front of the television watching The Great Escape or Jason & the Argonauts – again! Everybody is eating the Christmas Day leftovers, except the sprouts. The loyal Elves are given their end of season bonus and packed off back to “Eleveden Forest” in Suffolk, UK. (Didn’t you know that is where they live for most of the year?)

Before January is over those lovely people who design toys and games quickly introduce new and more exciting models which will become must-haves for countless girls and boys. Over time, toy shops are socially-distanced or virtually visited and millions of children quietly note those presents they would like Santa to bring. The demand slowly builds until it is time to bring the Elves back from Suffolk on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – no coincidence there! The first job for the Elves is to get the huge Christmas toy factory ready to run once again.

In parallel with this, millions of children around the world unzip their pencil cases (or tap into their telephones) with a purpose. Using their best handwriting they tell Santa they have all been well behaved and then list all the presents they would like to receive. This accumulated unconstrained demand allows the Elf toy factory to start fixing production plans to meet a deadline that is set in stone. Is there a peakier peak period?

Money does not grow on trees so “Santa” must quickly check what can be afforded from the budget. Remember, the wish lists are always too long and you do not want 100% Customer Service – “keep ‘em hungry”, I say. The Pre-S&OP takes place with all stakeholders involved to ensure everything is ready to go. You want to avoid stock-outs just as much as you need to avoid expensive write-offs.

After necessary adjustments are made to the planned volumes by SKU, the final S&OP takes place. Bearded Santa Claus is fully dressed in his best red uniform and takes his seat in the delivery sleigh. If Pre-S&OP actions have not been carried out, then there is unlikely to be much “Yo Ho Ho-ing”. Fortunately, all departments agree and the final set of child and associated SKU gift numbers is rubber-stamped. Remember, everyone involved in the Christmas S&OP must operate on the same set of numbers or somebody will be disappointed.

Rudolph puts on his COVID-19 mask and leads the reindeers in pulling the delivery sleigh across the world in a complex logistical challenge. Santa makes sure all the presents are delivered on time before little heads lift from pillows to wake parents at 4am! (Well, that is what I did.)

Before you know it, 26th December is here again and the same robust and reliable S&OP cycle starts once more. See you next year Santa!

Image courtesy of Enchange Ltd at Enchange.com



Tags: FMCG, Christmas, Supply Chain, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning

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