The hidden perils of Black Friday
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday bar keeps rising. Previous estimates of £1billion sales have now been increased to £2billion – but have the retail and wholesale industries stopped to consider the impact of huge commerce spikes on pre-Christmas sales overall?
Having discussed how multichannel businesses can run Black Friday in a previous post, we now want to explore the ramifications of early season promotions on festive trading as a whole.
Changes in Christmas shopping behaviour have placed new stresses on retail; goods must be supplied to consumers quicker and more responsively. However, whilst multichannel businesses have the front-end capabilities to market and sell these goods, they don't necessarily have the infrastructure to complete the orders.
One of the main difficulties is that retailers are using manual systems based around spreadsheets for order management and inventory control. The labour intensive nature of these processes means it's difficult to adapt to the demands of seasonal commerce spikes.
To truly embrace the new model of shopping pre-Christmas, wholesale, distribution and multichannel companies need to embrace a true ERP solution that can manage end-to-end processes efficiently, to streamline costs.
By creating operational efficiency, businesses can not only overcome the reduced profit margins that promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday entail, they can create a lean workflow that will serve retailers throughout the festive trading period.
This is particularly important during December, when the excitement of discounted marketing initiatives like Black Friday have worn off, and customers are entering the store or shopping online with specific requests.
At this point, consumers won't just settle for a good deal; they want the item they require, delivered when and where they want it. Here, again, infrastructure plays a critical role. For all the trappings of marketing, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and that means getting the product to the customer in a timely manner.
What makes this challenge all the more complex around Christmas time is stock availability. Events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday may generate headline sales, but they also create a spike in returns. According to predictive intelligence firm Clear Returns, there's an average time lag of 15-21 days between an item being purchased and it being sent back.
This means that unwanted products from early seasonal promotions are landing back within multichannel retailers' systems mid-December – just when operations are geared towards sending goods out. As a result, there is a possible situation in which goods that customers want pre-Christmas are sitting in the warehouse, but as far as the shopper is aware they are unavailable to purchase.
In this instance, a cloud-based ERP system is invaluable, as it addresses inventory availability across the business. This means any stock that can be released is visible to all retail channels, so even with limited availability, goods can still be dispatched to eager purchasers.
How to survive festive trading peaks with BlueBridge One
At a time when every minute counts, your business needs an ERP solution it can rely on across all channels, to streamline processes and deliver what consumers crave.
As an experienced NetSuite ERP solutions provider BlueBridge One has the expertise to optimise your system, and provide invaluable support during critical trading periods.