We asked our readers to think of three pieces of advice they would give to anyone who might be anticipating a bit of heat this Black Friday. We had so many responses that we’ve had to ration them out. Here’s three more readers sharing their rule of three for Black Friday.
Milan Panchmatia, Managing Partner of 4C Associates:
“Manage expectations of your customers in an open and transparent manner. If you are bringing in stock especially for Black Friday, tell your customers this; if there is limited supply, let them know how many units are left. Whatever you do, don’t leave them guessing.
“Look at your standard delivery timings. The pressure is going to be on, and the carriers will be under a huge strain. Unless you know that all of your customers must have next-day delivery, give them something else as standard to give the carrier a chance of success. Don’t over promise and under deliver!
“Spread the discounts. Don’t just look to make your sales numbers on Black Friday, spread the love! Start your campaigns and discounts early. Let your customers know that they can get a range of discounts in the days before and after Black Friday. By putting this wider spread in place your retail operations and carriers will stand much more of a chance of getting the parcels out on time and you’re much more likely to keep your customers happy.”
Nigel Doust, CEO, Blackbay:
“Get joined up. There is already a degree of collaboration between the carriers that plays to their respective strengths: rural area specialism, B2B runs in place, PUDO network in place, etc. Why shouldn’t there be agreements in place to pro-actively level the network loads across the carriers? There are obviously some exceptions but in general, this has to be a consideration. If external capacity had been in place last year to help the major carrier experiencing significant Returns issues, the whole industry would be better off.
“No-one likes a surprise, or do they? Visibility of order status and delivery times is critical and it is not such an issue if a delivery is late, as long as the recipient knows and can divert as needed. However, it is possible to offer a positive surprise to the end recipient by following the example of the Amazon Treasure Truck with their anticipatory need (upsell) approach. The retailers will know the obvious upsell items, carriers can hold additional stock of popular goods and maximise their network, when the inevitable quiet delivery periods occur during peaks, by ‘upselling’ at the doorstep. Carriers should change their mindset and not fear Black Friday by focusing on how they will manage to meet consumers’ delivery expectations, but regard it as a huge opportunity to maximise their network by enhancing the consumer’s delivery experience.
“Co-Uberate. Every carrier will be engaging external labour to help through the peak periods but obviously, do not want to over-hire nor over-spend. Why not embrace crowd-sourcing organisations such as MeeMeep, an Australian provider, which offers significant additional network capacity typically in difficult to get to areas and/or for complex deliveries, on a switch on/off basis. Couriers are vetted, the technology comes from the public AppStores – it couldn’t be any simpler.”
Craig Sears-Black, UK MD, Manhattan Associates:
“Make sure promotions are always supported by an appropriate supply chain infrastructure Last year’s Black Friday was proof that retailers made the ultimate mistake of thinking they could run highly competitive promotions and increase their sales without having the appropriate supply chain logistics in place. Retailers focused primarily on increasing the promotions and reducing the cost of products, rather than managing the rising demand. This year, however, it is vital that retailers plan their promotional strategy in line with their supply chain capacity. They must advise consumers of the delivery options up front and extend the delivery windows in order to accommodate the high levels of sales. Those who don’t will disappoint customers who will become frustrated by the lack of commitment by the retailer to its SLA’s (Service Level Agreements).
“Increase flexibility to maximise sales In order to maximise sales and reap the benefits of Black Friday, retailers need to be far more flexible than they were last year, when it comes to distributing orders. Why have all the ecommerce orders shipped from the main DC when they could be embracing ship from store? Spreading the demand over the retailer’s 20 biggest stores for example, means they can utilise these as mini DC’s or mini-hubs to speed up the process and reduce costs. However, retailers must not forget to staff the stores appropriately to accommodate this, or they risk falling into another delivery related trap and frustrating their key staff.
“Differentiate on service, not just on price Black Friday is not only about promotions and discount, retailers must also ensure that the service they provide is consistent. The skill is balancing out both these elements in order to make the sale and retain or gain a loyal customer. For example, retailers may choose to have a 15% discount and keep their 24-hour delivery window, but it may prove more profitable to offer a 30% discount and extend the delivery window to a maximum of 10 days. This way you are attracting consumers with a very competitive offer, but also setting the delivery expectations at the start and easing the load on your supply chain.”After all, most consumers buying on Black Friday will be buying gifts that they don’t have to share until Christmas, so retailers should be considering the fact that they are likely to be more willing than normal to wait slightly longer for deliveries. Leaving retailers with more flexibility to fully optimise their logistics and operational processes and accommodate for the amount of orders that will need to be processed during this time, in the most cost-effective and profitable manner whilst still fulfilling the customers expectations.
“The moral of the story is, learn from the mistakes of 2014 and head into the peak Christmas period armed with the knowledge, technology and preparation needed to not only increase sales, but also secure new and existing customers.”
Main image: Black Friday 2010, Westlake Seattle. Copyright John Henderson. Image from Flickr, under creative commons.
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