Can businesses cope with Black Friday and November?

Can businesses cope with Black Friday and November?
David Hallam

The post-Thanksgiving sales frenzy of Black Friday has become a staple in the UK, but can businesses cope? We asked David Hallam from Lincoln’s OrderWise:

What started as an American post-Thanksgiving ritual of racing out to retail stores the day after turkey was consumed to snap up the best deals on Christmas gifts, has now well and truly spread overseas. However, this year it seems there’s a different dynamic to the event.

Today is expected to set UK shoppers back by £10 billion, meaning the spread of mass discount hype has made this seasonal peak crucial for revenue. This means businesses hoping to cope with the mad rush of Black Friday and high volumes of shoppers, both online and in-store, must look for long-lasting and robust ways to manage sales.

Black Friday is now the starting gun for Christmas shopping and it’s famous for what retailers call ‘doorbusters’ – deals so good that eager shoppers will try and break down doors of stores to get them.

On the face of this it seems a great way of promoting quick and easy sales, but without a prudent strategy in place businesses can quickly find themselves overwhelmed with orders.

To battle this, retailers have begun in recent years to introduce ‘Black November’, with offers running over a monthly period rather than a single day to help ease the strain on fulfilment operations.

This switch has been reflected in consumer spending habits too, with only 35% of people planning to do most of their shopping on Black Friday itself according to retail accounting firm PwC.

Businesses should therefore strive to meet both in-store purchasing and order-to-collect demands of today’s consumers, including cross-platform returns policies, in order to help maintain and improve customer loyalty, interacting with them through various channels.

However, while it is vital to have a good system in place on the front-end, it is equally important to have efficient processes from within the warehouse.

When despatching large quantity orders, finding a fast, cost-effective method of handling the picking and packing process can be difficult. In many cases when orders are for hundreds and thousands of items, businesses need to split these down into multiple parcels and pallets.

Although Black Friday is steadily shifting into a month-long event as online competition sees retailers play one-upmanship with offers, businesses shouldn’t rely on the greater spread of time. To maximise the profitability this period offers, businesses should look to streamline internal processes, reducing costs and getting orders out the door.