Black Friday is almost upon us, and here’s how to get it right

by Franz Purucker, Co-Founder and MD of Hive

As the days shorten and the nip in the air sharpens, there’s one day circled in red on every retail calendar – Black Friday. It’s not just a sale; it’s a saga, where the rubber meets the road in the world of ecommerce. Your website may be user-friendly, and your products might be top-notch, but if your fulfilment process isn’t up to par, customer satisfaction could plummet, tarnishing your brand’s reputation.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the most common misstep – overlooking streamlined delivery methods. When the Black Friday orders start pouring in, the real litmus test begins. Your customers are looking for not just great deals but also reliable and varied delivery options. Offering next-day delivery or free shipping can be a game-changer in enhancing customer satisfaction and nudging them to hit that ‘buy now’ button.

The fluctuation in customer behaviour on Black Friday is more of a tidal wave than a ripple. The surge towards online shopping is massive, and this shift demands a robust, agile fulfilment system. The challenge is real, but so is the opportunity to shine amidst the retail giants by ensuring that every ordered product reaches its new home as promised.

Let’s dive into a practical scenario. Imagine a startup that once wrestled with the Black Friday frenzy. The turning point came when they embraced data analytics to forecast demand accurately. They stocked up efficiently, streamlined their delivery process, and voila, the orders were rolling out smoothly, and customers were singing praises. The lesson? A little foresight, aided by data, can go a long way in ensuring a hassle-free fulfilment process.

Data analytics isn’t just a buzzword; it’s your compass in the Black Friday chaos. Delving into past sales data, market trends, and customer behaviours can equip you with insights to tailor your fulfilment strategies, ensuring that your inventory is well-stocked and ready to meet the surge in demand.

Building a resilient supply chain is akin to having a well-oiled machine ready to take on the Black Friday marathon. It’s about having real-time insights into your inventory levels and a clear communication channel with your suppliers to ensure that the products are in stock and ready to be shipped out.

Now, amidst the whirlwind of orders, maintaining a clear channel of communication within your team is crucial. It’s the cohesive teamwork that will help navigate through the high-demand period, ensuring that every order is processed efficiently, every customer query is addressed promptly, and every delivery is on schedule.

Post-Black Friday, the journey isn’t over. The returns and exchanges will start trickling in, and having a clear, fair returns policy in place is paramount. It’s not just about processing returns; it’s an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your customers by making the return process as smooth as the purchasing one.

Metrics matter, and monitoring key metrics like delivery times, order accuracy, and return rates can provide a panoramic view of your fulfilment efficiency. It’s these numbers that will give you a clear picture of where you excelled and where you need to up your game.

Reflecting on past Black Fridays, the narrative is clear – preparation and an efficient fulfilment process are the linchpins of a successful Black Friday sale.

In wrapping up, here are three nuggets of wisdom:

  1. Embrace data analytics to fine-tune your fulfilment strategies.
  2. Foster a resilient supply chain to ensure timely deliveries.
  3. Have a clear, fair returns policy to manage post-Black Friday fulfilment.

As you gear up for the Black Friday saga, remember, it’s the fulfilment process that will take centre stage in the customer’s journey. It’s your chance to not just meet but exceed customer expectations, earning their loyalty and putting your brand on the map.