Gearing up For Black Friday: Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
Once upon a time, businesses only had to worry about the busy Christmas period. They could put Slade and Wizard on loop, prepare for an onslaught of last-minute shoppers – also known as ‘men’ – and then relax until the January sales.
But things have changed. The Black Friday and Cyber Monday crazes have crossed the Atlantic, bringing shopping mayhem to cyberspace. Rather than being a month of steady sales as shoppers gradually gear up for Crimbo, November has turned into a bargain-induced frenzy.
Did you know that many businesses make four times as many sales on the 23rd and 26th November as they do on any normal day? No wonder these dates have become so vital to e-commerce industries.
It’s vital to prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday properly. Many businesses launch new products, introduce special promotions, and advertise heavily in the run up to the event. Remember to hone your special offers, sort out your analytics, work on automating discounts, and get the tech side ready for any eventuality.
It’s also vital to order extra stock to meet expected demand, and make sure you have enough staff on hand. Everything needs to be streamlined and working in sync or your dream of a bumper November will turn into a nightmare.
Don’t take your customers for granted
Perhaps the biggest mistake one can make is forgetting about customers’ needs during this busy time. This is especially true in e-commerce, where research shows that existing customers make 40% of total transactions. Don’t put these key relationships at risk by taking your eye off the ball.
Because fulfilment is a vital part of the customer experience, you must do everything possible to avoid tardy shipping or, even worse, shipping mistakes. Employees often get tired and overwhelmed during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What’s more, backlogs can occur without proper planning. And this can lead to items arriving several days late or not at all.
While some mistakes are probably inevitable, customers are unlikely to care. They expect their orders to arrive in the normal timescales no matter how busy you are. People expect discounts on Black Friday but they won’t put up with discounted service.
Although it might not be possible for all companies, particularly SMEs, to eradicate all hiccups, there are a few things you can do to help both your customers and your business.
Firstly it’s important to advertise a cut-off point for deliveries, so customers know their orders will definitely arrive by a certain date. This is especially important for shoppers buying Christmas and birthday gifts. Research shows that cut-off points stop customers from abandoning their shopping carts.
It’s also important to implement a clear returns policy. You might even want to give people more time than usual to make returns during busy shopping periods. Providing this extra flexibility will give shoppers confidence to go ahead with their purchase. What’s more, it will give you more breathing space at your end too.
Of course, there’s only one sure-fire way to ensure that orders don’t go awry: outsourcing your fulfilment responsibilities to an experienced partner like Menzies Response. After all, a fulfilment company with huge resources can cope with busy times of the year. It’s their job.
Hiring a fulfilment company to help you will increase efficiencies and provide peace of mind – thus enabling you to focus on the million and one other things you have to do. A fulfilment company always has enough hands on deck, allowing them to accurately measure, pick, and pack orders, secure them safely, and distribute them seamlessly.
You’ll find that fulfilment professionals are flexible enough to help you all year round or just deal with overflow during hectic periods. They can integrate their systems with both your website and/or business management software. Plus they utilise the latest barcode technology to track orders effectively from storage to delivery.
A fulfilling solution
Speed and efficiency are everything in the fast and furious world of e-commerce. Customers expect ordering to be quick and easy, and they expect products to arrive the next day at a click of a button. If you can’t meet their expectations then they’ll soon find a company that can.
It’s great to be busy on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and during the Christmas period itself. It shows there’s great demand for your fantastic products. But why make these busy times more stressful than they need to be? And why risk your success turning into a disaster? Follow our advice and you’ll have a very happy Christmas indeed.