£1 billion in forecasted sales
Economists anticipated Black Friday 2015 to be the UK’s biggest shopping day ever, with £1 billion forecasted in sales.
But with an anticipated 15% uptake in Black Friday shoppers this year, particularly amongst the coveted 18-24 demographic, the questions begs; how ready is the UK retail market?
In addition to 2014’s outrageous scenes of fighting over television sets and tablet devices, there was mayhem online, with the websites of Tesco, Currys, Argos and Boots, amongst others, crashing under the weight of inflated Black Friday traffic.
Similarly, the delivery of £810 million in online purchases pushed supply chains to the absolute limit, with many stories of late deliveries and lost products.
Lessons of 2014
After the lesson of last year, retailers could take a more strategic approach to Black Friday, scaling up infrastructure capabilities to avoid site downtime and the potential loss of millions in missed sales.
With such an explosion in sales, retailers looked to ensure stock levels were accurate and that produce could be moved between channels to fulfil demand and gain their share of the £1 billion sales opportunity.
Retailers that experienced the greatest sales on Black Friday were those who can connect the physical and online store experiences best, such as click and collect, as well as using technology to keep the whole operation connected and running smoothly.
For a while now, retailers have hoped for something that brings Christmas shopping forward to create a season that is slightly less chaotic and easier to prepare for. Both functionality and resiliency are key, and sophisticated business management solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP bring these to retailers.
How retailers prepare for significant trading peaks
- Manage consumer expectations before the event in an open and transparent way, both around products that will be discounted and fulfilment
- Don’t attempt to offer discounts, free delivery and free returns all at once – choose a strategy and stick with it
- Invest in IT infrastructure early to ensure it is scalable
- Be realistic about the fulfilment capabilities available and work towards them, even if that means increasing the order-to-delivery cycle
- Ensure back-end operations are watertight before offering any extra fulfilment options
- Work closely with the supply chain to understand how and when capacity is reached, and how to deal with it
- Stress test website capabilities and point-of-sale systems well in advance
- Use real-time visibility of stock as much as possible across all operations
- Be prepared for all eventualities
- Proactively understand the customers experience