In this piece, Selazar reveals 5 ecommerce fulfilment tips for Black Friday 2021.
As the busiest online shopping time of the year approaches us in 2021, retailers are gearing up. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a time when many eCommerce businesses make most of their annual profit in a single quarter. Making sure they offer the best deals and organise the best logistics solutions is critical. This year is anticipated to break record sales again as UK Black Friday sales have gained steadily year after year for the past five years.
In 2016 we saw a market size resulting in 60.4 billion pounds in the UK, with 2020 ending at a market size of 99.3 billion pounds online. With several industries worldwide still dealing with pandemic lockdowns & restrictions, it appears 2021 will bring even more revenue this time around. It’s time to get ready!
Now is the time to start planning for Black Friday 2021. Black Friday this year is November 26th. Starting too late may prevent you from capitalising on this opportunity. Surveys have shown that UK consumers start planning their research for Black Friday almost five weeks prior. That’s as early as October.
As will be discussed in this article, it’s essential to make a detailed strategy around everything involving stock, logistics, marketing and more. We want to help you avoid some of the common mistakes and pitfalls business owners make. Focusing only on your profit margins without a sound plan for the entire customer journey can bring a loss of revenue and utter regret.
1. Manage your inventory & stock levels properly
Inventory management can be an issue for many small to mid-sized eCommerce companies. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be unusually challenging without efficient processes in place. Two of the most significant issues we see in the eCommerce industry are:
- Not having enough stock available to accommodate sales
- Not preparing stock ahead of time
If you’re a one-person business warrior who takes care of all your inventory on top of running your business, we salute you. However, there is a time where you need to start questioning whether you’re just working harder and not smarter. Not only are you working with your manufacturer to ensure your products arrive promptly, but now you must manage it all once it arrives, yikes! What about multiple products and bundling? This can quickly take up all of your available time.
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is mismanaging inventory. When you’re a growing business, taking your eye off the ball of stock and delivery can sink customer retention rates. Common issues that occur are late deliveries and wrongly delivered items. These situations happening to your customers will ensure the final nail in the coffin of your business.
Fulfilling multiple orders requires knowing precisely how much stock you have, where it is and implementing sound processes to quickly and accurately ship to your customer. Successful multichannel logistics involves complex, dynamic, tech-forward solutions to inventory management. Unfortunately, 38% of companies lack order management, inventory management, point-of-sale (POS), and third-party logistics (3PL) Software.
Can you believe that 55% of eCommerce brands still use manual writing methods to manage their logistics and inventory? Not only is this inefficient, but it’s also dangerous. A survey of retailers found that 33% say order demand is a primary concern, followed by inventory allocation and delivery costs.
In 2021, digital technology and analytics bring heightened automation, merchandise visibility, and business intelligence to supply chain logistics.
Inbound Stock Processing (ISP)
For companies that already use a 3PL, ISP is a series of steps to ensure the smooth acceptance of stock into our warehouse. Products are then assigned to appropriately signed locations using our smart storage technology. After this is completed and orders are received online, our warehouse gets an instant notification. This process then triggers the automatic pick and pack process, followed by despatch and delivery.
During peak fulfilment times around the holidays and Black Friday, warehouse distribution naturally increases. Ensuring that you get your stock into a distribution warehouse ahead of time solidifies the inbound stock processing procedure will be complete, and the inventory will be available right away.
Companies that wait until the last minute to do this put pressure on the entire supply chain while possibly sabotaging their own success.
2. Join a 3pl to automate operations
Preparing outgoing stock the right way matters. Some might argue this is the most critical part of the process as customer’s expectations in 2021 around speedy delivery matters. Things like next day delivery are important when eager customers want their products as soon as possible.
The products need to be picked and packed into boxes. The shipping labels need to be accurately printed and placed onto those boxes. Then they need to be delivered to customers. Worrying about all this in the middle of a busy sales cycle can be detrimental to your business, causing headaches and slow delivery times. Sure, you could try to do this all yourself, but is that the most intelligent way?
What about customer support? What about returns and refunds? What about marketing?
Using a 3pl fulfilment solution offers you the worry-free experience to handle your business while not micromanaging every aspect of your operations.
Pick and pack operations
Pick and pack fulfilment is all about smart automation. We automate your storage, inventory packing, and inventory shipping. Anything that happens after the “buy now” button on your website, we take care of for you. We take care of your final mile delivery within 24 – 48 hours, so you don’t have to. We even handle your custom packaging.
For those brands that like to enhance their experience with custom inserts and custom packaging, we also accommodate these requests. We know the value of a customer’s perception of the “unboxing experience” and how it enhances brand value. A recent survey shows that 40% of online shoppers say they are more likely to recommend a product to a friend if it comes in branded packaging. So, we listened and encouraged this practice.
Two-way stock sync
Two-way stock sync is a technological process that happens between the warehouse data centre and an eCommerce website. Basically, the technology in the warehouse and data from your website talk to each other. This is how we manage inventory correctly and efficiently from end to end.
So, when a product is sold on your website, that sold product instantly sends a notification to the warehouse to pick and pack the item, then send it. Then, that one sold product reduces the total product quantity on your website by one, reflecting the 100% correct amount available. Then so on and so on.
Two-way stock avoids any potential errors in selling inventory without there actually being inventory available for purchase. Plus, there is the added benefit of knowing precisely how much stock you have available at all times. When you’re getting low on inventory because you are a “selling machine,” you know it’s time to top up. Now that is inventory management!
3. Offer free shipping
As we discuss in our article “Free shipping: The actual cost and why you should offer it,” this customer benefit matters. It’s one of the key performance indicators for increased revenue and customer retention, resulting in an increased AOV of 30%.
Here’s a scenario for you:
Company A offers a set of 5 plates for £21. Company B also provides the same set of 5 plates for £20; however, they have a £3 shipping fee. Which would you rather buy from?
It’s evident that the answer is company A. Company A most likely smartened up and previously absorbed their shipping cost into the total product price. So, the actual price of the plates is more likely around £17 or £16, and the £20 pound total already includes £3 or £4 for shipping.
Remember that free shipping feels like a “bargain” to customers. It’s that extra thought and effort that goes into product pricing which delivers you more sales. When the infamous “moment of decision” happens at the “buy” button, this will help push the customers over the edge into the realm of paying customers instead of the enormous trough of lost customers. It’s reasons like this why the percentage of cart abandonment rates are so high in eCommerce. In fact, it’s the number ONE reason.
4. Marketing Tips
When you’re selling online, there are some key factors you should pay attention to in preparation for Black Friday. This goes from how you advertise to the performance of your website.
If you’re a regular seller online, chances are you’re going to see copious amounts of traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The first thing you want to do is audit your website to make sure it can compensate for higher traffic. For instance, site speed matters. A surge in traffic can cause page elements to slow.
Your page speed will negatively impact your user’s experience. Your bounce rate will be affected as well as your conversion rate.
Easy checkout experience
As mentioned earlier, the abandonment cart rate continues to be an issue for eCommerce stores. The biggest reason is shipping costs. The next big reason is complicated checkout processes. There are three main things to remember.
- Make sure customers can check out without having to create their own account and backtracking the sales process.
This is known as “guest checkout.” Whether they’re previously a customer or not, this shouldn’t complicate the checkout process. Let them proceed with the purchase.
- Only collect the necessary information
Make sure you’re only collecting information from the customer that you require. Always create fewer steps for them to streamline your checkout process.
- Offer multiple payment methods
As everyone is different and has various preferred methods of payment, the more, the better. PayPal, Apple Pay, credit & debit cards, etc.
Sell on multiple social channels
Many people focus only on Facebook and Instagram. These have proven to be two of the most valuable social marketing sales channels consistently. However, these channels have also become more saturated, so don’t neglect other social channels. YouTube is an underrated source, and TikTok is increasingly becoming an eCommerce powerhouse for sales.
With buying online becoming more trustworthy, selling through social media channels is commonplace now. See more about this on our blog, “order fulfilment through the power of social selling.”
Use SMS marketing to reach your customers
Lastly, use text messaging to reach out to your customer base for Black Friday. Whereas standard targeted emails have an open rate on average of 18%, sending SMS campaigns to clients has a mind-blowing 98% open rate. Many companies that have used this strategy have seen an ROI as high as 2000% during the holiday shopping season.
5. Make returns simple
Getting sales on your eCommerce store is exciting, and nobody wants to worry about products being returned. Unfortunately, product returns are widespread in the online shopping industry, so we must face them.
A survey conducted in July of 2020 with 1,000 UK consumers showed the main reasons for items being returned. 66% revealed that the products were returned because they didn’t fit correctly. So, if you’re in the fashion industry, expect to deal with many returns. 39% also said that the item was not as described on the website. Make sure you do all that is necessary to give precise details on what you actually offer. Also, ensure your pictures and video are high quality and can provide as many details as possible. See our blog on tips for visual eCommerce to increase sales.
There are a couple of things you want to pay attention to when it comes to returns.
- Have a clear return policy on your website
The latest data shows that your customers do care about an excellent return policy. In fact, 67% of customers check the returns policy before making a buying decision.
Be detail-oriented and specific.
- Have a system in place for quick returns and refunds
There’s nothing a customer despises more than returning a product that they initially waited eagerly for. What’s worse? Well, taking forever to get a refund!
Customers want to know right away precisely how they can return a product, where to send it, and how quickly they will get their money back.
Returns are common, and they don’t always have a negative effect on your brand. In fact, it can be a brand booster, interestingly enough. This is because 92% of consumers will purchase again from a retailer if the returns process was easy. Customers will develop trust with your brand, even if a product didn’t suit their requirements.
Returns are easy with Selazar. The product is simply sent back to our warehouse, where (after inspected) is directly added back to your storage area for repurchase. Then, through two-way sync, the product quantity level automatically updates on your website.
Now that is service!
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.