Even Santa Had to Rethink His Supply Chain this Year: Letter From an Elf

Hi, Eddie the Elf here.

I must admit I am fanatic about planning. Some folks say I am OCD about it. I plan everything. From my green outfit and hat each morning to Santa’s entire year of shipments around the world that need to be delivered in one night!

Seasonality, Off the Chain!

This year has been extremely difficult though. We normally see a lot of seasonality in our wish lists from kids and adults. They call for skis and snowboards in the northern and east hemisphere, and surf/sun desires in the southern hemisphere areas like Australia. This year, however, The North Pole is incredibly overstocked. I guess it’s because so many people are staying inside more these days.

Santa put in place a new supply chain planning solution that helps us capture demand quicker by collecting information from something called the internet of things (IoT). It senses abnormalities, which we are getting a lot of this year. We elves realized the problem as soon as we went live. The letters we received back in February and March were normal planned items: clothes, outdoor sporting goods and even new ties for dads. That all started to change by the early summer.

Toilet Paper on Your Wish List?!

Our large and remote Noel distribution centers in Europe, and Nickolas facilities in western Europe and Russia also saw the impact. People wanted different items: cookbooks, board games, indoor exercise equipment and some new incredible educational software have become the hottest items. One item I never thought we’d see requests for is toilet paper. Who puts toilet paper on their holiday wish list?!

Needless to say, I got grief from Ellen who runs the North Pole plants about having to deploy all the elves overtime to make up the new product mix. The supply chains were now totally different. Peter in procurement had to find not only new suppliers but also had to ramp up quickly to the spikes in demands. The multi-echelon replenishment component of Santa’s new solution is helping to optimize the inventory levels with some sort of intelligence that somehow “learns” lead times. Go figure!

Better Order More Coal

We heard all the way up here that children are increasingly getting more and more bad grades by only having remote learning. Seems that kids are restless, getting what we call “Pantookas Popcorn in their pants”.

This has created requests for a stocking stuffer that learns how a student learns best: group, project, gaming, video, examples, etc. and automatically converts the class material for the day into personalized student lessons by modality. Elf Mary and her tech support team have been working night and day to develop and roll this out. It is keeping children from the Naughty List, which was growing. Anyway, I digress.

Getting the dashboards and analytics about what we need — and when — has made Santa a lot more pleasant to be around. He seems less stressful that he only now needs to focus on the exceptions instead of all the products and locations that I worry about.

Supply Chain Planning Has Some Adverse Effects

The only downside so far is that he normally eats a lot when he is stressed, and we are thinking that he is looking a little trim this year. Mrs. Claus is doing her best though with the recipes she received from Cindy-Lou Who last year. She has perfected the Who-Pudding and Whobillation Cake. We are positive he will be back at flying weight in time for the big day.

The reindeer are doing well and are in great shape. Elf Victor who heads up operations has been feeding them lots of carrots, as it is like candy to them, besides the oats and barley. Hint: they are not allowed to have chocolate, as it upsets their stomachs.

I am concerned about the deliveries from them though on one topic: Quarantining. I do not think that 14-day quarantining mandate is applicable to airspace and rooftops, but I am concerned about a few locations where they have gotten a little strict. I am planning a few extra candy canes to be distributed to officers if such occasion arises.

As I mentioned earlier, the messages in the letters this year have changed. Seems after the beginning of November, they got to be about just being together with family. Smaller gatherings with smaller Roast Beasts and less Blumbloopas Plum Tarts. More well-being and caring-for-each-other types of wishes. That makes our holiday cheer meters glow brightly because, at the end of the day, it is all about giving and caring for each other, rather than getting another ugly sweater.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all,

-Elf Eddie