Last month, we kicked around this idea that – maybe because all good things come in threes – we’d like to hear if our readers had three key pieces of advice to share on coping with Black Friday, after all some people are predicting it will be a £1bn day.
The responses came thick and fast. This is the second collection of some of the responses we received.
Mikko Kärkkäinen, group CEO, RELEX Solutions:
“There are three things retailers should do to avoid a calamitous Black Friday 2015.
“First, many businesses can benefit from running their channel operations more effectively. That may well mean operating a single stock pool and being readier to shift stock from one retail outlet to another. Stock is stock and a sale is a sale. It may be easier said than done but, with a good supply chain solution, it is eminently doable.
“Second, it helps to run a unified operation. You can’t have internal departments competing against one another, defending their own patch, inventories and goals. A properly organised S&OP process can help create shared goals and joint processes that promote collaboration. A single forecast on which an overarching sales strategy can be based, inventory and capacity planned and financial goals set. Of course this integrated approach has implications for supply chain organisation and processes but the right SCM solution makes this sort of integration much, much easier.
“Finally, businesses also need to make use of the growing source of data that most retailers have available to them. But without the processing power and tools to analyse effectively, mining big data is little more than creating a haystack in which to go hunting for a needle. Retailers need to be able to turn this vast data pool into a powerful resource that provides better forecasting, dynamic snapshots of a business in real-time and instantaneous illustrations of the impact of supply chain decisions.”
Vicky Brock, CEO and co-founder of Clear Returns:
“It is vital to choose your Black Friday promotional items carefully as they will be snapped up in a frenzy and be susceptible to buyer remorse, and therefore a high returns rate, especially big ticket items. Indeed, products returned after Black Friday are unlikely to be processed until after the Christmas period so to prevent waste and margin loss, make sure they are items that can be re-sold in January and not at a massive mark down.
“Black Friday might seem like a great idea, especially with big retailers leading the way. However the true cost of acquiring customers during such promotions is likely to be very high and it’s important to factor in a dramatically higher return rate.
“Don’t forget that a sale is not a sale until the customer decides to keep the product. Indeed, at such busy periods anything between 15-50% of promotional items might be returned at a time when staff will be stretched to fulfil other more profitable orders in the run up to Christmas. So temper your desire for a rush of transactions versus the need for ensuring customers retain what they buy.“
Guy Chiswick, MD of Webloyalty:
“Be realistic about customer fulfilment. Last year, retailers continued to offer a full range of delivery options including next-day delivery, despite this not always being feasible following surges in orders. Be transparent with your customers with about delivery times, as shoppers may be happy to wait a little longer for their products if they’re getting value for money.
“Keep your website simple. Scaling back pages on your website during peak selling times will deliver a better experience for the customer. Retailers’ sites slowing or crashing completely was a theme of big issue on Black Friday last year. By disabling richer features such as third-party plugins and personalised recommendations, customers are less likely to become frustrated with the website’s performance and you’ll be able to convert as many sales as possible.
“Ensure customer safety. Even though Black Friday (and Cyber Monday in particular) are big on the e-commerce front, bricks and mortar stores also need to avert chaos from bargain seeking customers. One of the main news items coming out of Black Friday 2014 was a woman being hit by a falling television at a supermarket in Manchester, and a number of retailers across the country were closed after customers ended up fighting over discounted stock. Although customer safety seems like an obvious priority, having additional security staff and assistants on the shopfloor will assist in the day running more smoothly, with a higher sales conversion likely through the stores staying open.”