The end of the year is usually when ecommerce businesses face their biggest challenges. The major challenge comes at the end of November, on Black Friday. This is when you ought to maximise sales. Remember that making a big number of sales is just the beginning. If you fail to fulfil them on time, you can lose rather than gain.
Read on to see how to plan logistics at this time.
What is Black Friday and its role for ecommerce?
Black Friday is a shopping custom which came to Europe and Poland from USA. In the United States, Black Friday directly follows Thanksgiving Day (the last Friday of November) and initiates the Christmas shopping period. At this time herds of Americans rush to shops, while sellers encourage them to make purchases through big discounts. The very name – Black Friday – probably derives from the English term "in the black", which in accounting means that business operations become profitable.
Although Black Friday initially limited itself to brick-and-mortar stores, today it plays a key role in the world of ecommerce too. Consumers expect to see big promotional offers online and value the following:
- The possibility of buying cheaper goods with no need to wait in the queue and "fight" for products in store
- more time to make online purchasing decisions
- online shopping comfort
This is the reason why in the last couple of years e-stores have not only been celebrating Black Friday but also Cyber Monday (the following Monday) after a crazy shopping weekend. On Cyber Monday consumers can come across new and other special offers – the ones which attract both shopping frenzy lovers and "late comers" who still wish to benefit from the discounts.
Black Friday and logistics – how to face this challenge?
These days, it's essential to offer customers special offers on Black Friday via your e-store if you want to meet consumers' expectations. This is why Black Friday can be an opportunity to substantially increase your sales volume - providing, of course, you select the right products for your special offers and use convincing discounts. You will also need to run a marketing campaign to give your offers increased visibility.
This is all well and good, but the sudden and rapid growth in order volume that you can expect in this period may prove to be a true challenge – particularly when you manage logistics on your own. Before you announce special offers on Black Friday in your e-shop, make sure that:
- you have sufficient stock of the goods you intend to sell and that you keep it updated on a regular basis
- you exclude any goods from the promotion that you do not actually have in stock – otherwise you may be required to cancel transactions made on Black Friday or communicate an unacceptable lead time
- you have sufficient human resources to smoothly pack and send all your orders – too few employees can delay shipping,
- you are ready to pick, pack and dispatch orders – you can be slowed down by a lack of suitable packing materials or poor warehouse organisation.
In summary: you need to make sure that a large number of orders does not overwhelm your business and can be fulfilled in a short space of time. The consequences of being unable to deal with the orders can be very serious. You may have to cancel orders, issue refunds and may end up with hundreds of negative reviews of your e-store, which will affect sales results for many months.
The solution, which can help you avoid problems related to smooth fulfilment of orders on Black Friday, is the support of an experienced logistics center which can take over all processes pertaining to distribution of goods. A solid staff base combined with advanced completing and packing automation is a key to customer satisfaction, not only on Black Friday, but as you scale your business and increase your sales.
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