Here’s another collection of eDelivery readers’ thoughts, opinions and advice on being Black Friday ready. We started out asking for people to share their rule of three … three pieces of advice … and were inundated with responses. Here, then, are four more. There will be more to come.
Mark Thornton, marketing director, Maginus:
“If I had only one recommendation to make it would be to test your systems and understand where the weak points are in the process; find out which resource will fail first and under what load. This could be the website, logistics, warehouse picking and packing and click and collect locations. Here are my top tips:
“If a product is out of stock, is it removed automatically from the website or at least clearly labelled as unavailable and the buy button removed from the product page? Similarly, can delivery options be quickly removed from the website to avoid over promising and under delivering?
“Can all delivery locations such as lockers and click and collect cater with the surge in demand? If they cannot, it’s important to understand the resource constraint and plan accordingly including removing that delivery location from the website.
“Do you have the capability to create a Black Friday category on your website? This was very successful on Prime Day for Amazon.”
Tony Matthews, head of e-commerce, Arvato:
“Warehousing is one area that has significant potential for increasing productivity – the faster the warehouse can pick and pack, the later the cut off for next day delivery can be and more orders can be processed. By introducing technology such as pick-by-voice, for example, which uses advanced software to provide staff with the quickest route to complete a pick, firms can expect to improve their productivity by as much as 15%.
“Implementing an automated despatch sorting system, which comprises a conveyor system and scanner to route parcels to the appropriate despatch lane can also help speed up the process by pre-sorting packages by delivery type and carrier. “However, retailers should not just focus on introducing new technology – solutions also require changes to human processes. Something that is commonly overlooked is how the ergonomics of packing stations in the warehouse can affect efficiency. Firms should conduct ergonomic reviews to make sure packers have everything they need within arm’s reach. We’ve been able to make significant time savings for e-commerce brand Firebox by really getting down into the granular detail, such as finding the most appropriate height for printers to sit on packing stations.
“Transport management systems integrated with an extensive range of carriers should also be a major consideration, as they provide retailers with a wider choice of delivery options. Such systems enable each order to be despatched according to customer preference, such as standard, express and Saturday delivery or local collection service, and should any problems arise, parcels can be switched to a different carrier to avoid delays and back logs.”
Niklas Hedin, CEO, Centiro:
“The first and most important piece of advice to retailers is to properly invest in your delivery networks, with realistic contingency plans. Consumers now want to receive a variety of goods quicker than ever before, but many delivery networks are coming under increasing strain. Complete visibility over delivery networks and lead times is now essential, especially as order-to delivery windows contract.
“Secondly, make promises you can keep, and keep your promises! Last year, many retailers found that they were unable to meet delivery promises. By being able to work with many different carriers simultaneously at short notice, retailers can scale quickly to meet demand, retain greater control over costs and keep their promises to customers.
“Lastly, retailers must learn how to make returns a revenue generator: some figures estimated over a third of items bought over Black Friday were returned, so retailers need to ensure their reverse logistics capabilities can meet the challenges,. Returns can then form part of a ‘full circle’ customer experience that uses returns as a marketing channel and creates a positive experience that encourages loyalty.”
Judy Blackburn, head of supply chain team, Kurt Salmon:
“Get your stock right. Dedicate a team of supply chain people well ahead of the event to ensure there will be full availability on the top selling items at all times. For most retailers this means they should already be stock planning to make sure they don’t fail at the first hurdle.
“Test your technology. Carry out a full survey of the web and related IT systems capacity to make sure it can cope with the expected spikes in volume to avoid the brand damage and issues some retailers had last year of having customers sitting in long holding queues.
“Make detailed delivery forecasts. Agree detailed forecasts of order and delivery volumes with your in-house or 3rd party fulfilment partners and carriers to make sure there is sufficient capacity to support the expected volumes.”