How did Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, get its name? There are two explanations: the traffic that clogs roads as shoppers flock to stores in search of a bargain, or the point when retailers begin turning a profit as the Christmas build up begins.
Either way, it’s a huge opportunity for online retailers. In 2017, the combined online shopping spend in the US over Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday was $14.5 billion, including $6.6 billion from Cyber Monday alone. This day has taken off in other countries as well. Some reports show an estimated £7.8 billion in sales in the UK between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2017, with online purchases responsible for £3.1 billion of this spend. Shoppers in Germany spent an estimated £5.7 billion online and in-store between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while shoppers in France spent £4.7 billion. In Canada, online shopping over cyber weekend increased 18% from 2016 to 2017, reaching £256 million.
So how can online retailers ensure their mail solutions are up to scratch and order fulfilment systems don’t become a traffic black spot? Asendia UK's Production Director Luis Barros and General Manager Carl Loader share their top tips:
Do your homework
Learn from past experiences and forecast accordingly. Crucial considerations include stock levels and the robustness of IT platforms, onward supply chains and delivery capacity.
Prepare your back room
Identify points of vulnerability in the journey of goods from you to your customers – and secure them. Key touchpoints include warehouse layout, systems, resources and manpower.
Consider staffing carefully
Extra manpower can be crucial in periods of increased orders, but it’s no panacea. Do you have the facilities and space to accommodate them? Do the staff have the skills you require?
Negotiate discounts with suppliers if you think you’ll sell high volumes of certain goods. It’s also an opportunity to sell off excess stock that hasn’t sold well in the past.
Learn from your rivals
If you haven’t taken part in Black Friday before, have a look at how your rivals have made the most of the event. If they can do it, so can you!
Communication is crucial, both in terms of keeping your customers up-to-date on their deliveries and interacting with your partners.
Monitor social media
Monitor social channels to respond to questions and deal with complaints. Quick responses will nip problems in the bud; you may even make more sales along the way!
Be mindful of the Christmas build up
Black Friday is part of the trading build up at Christmas. Use it as an opportunity to develop your strategy during the festive spike.
Enlist a fulfilment expert
If you don’t have the resources to guarantee a golden Black Friday, entrust an expert. A fulfilment company will have the warehouse space, staff and knowledge to handle peaks.
Consider a tracked service
By using national postal networks with full traceability – like Asendia’s Fully-tracked Goods service – customers are given full confidence that their goods are on the way and returns are greatly reduced.