BFCM sounds a little kinky, and if your business isn’t prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, things will get painful very quickly. But, no need to fear: Excellent Zephyr is here!
We’ve condensed (almost) everything you need to think about in the lead-up to Black Friday into five key process areas. If that’s too much for you, maybe a checklist is more your style, and we have made one of those too. Sign up to our Newsletter on the home page for the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Preparation Checklist, or read on for some completely unrelated metaphors and some statistics to understand why that checklist is even important in the first place.
Warehousing: Order and Fulfilment Workflows
Last year, 88 Million consumers shopped online for Black Friday alone, followed by a further 77 Million on Cyber Monday. If you own an eCommerce store, you’re probably licking your lips with dollar (or rather – Pound) signs in your eyes like Mr Krabs. On the other hand, the warehouse staff will be running around like Spongebob, trying to pick and pack orders faster than they can say Excellent Zephyr. Spongebob Squarepants references aside, optimising your order and fulfilment workflows from checkout to warehouse is number one on our list of crucial business processes this peak period. Warehouse staff should prepare by making popular products easily accessible for more efficient picking and packing and prioritise shipments based upon predefined groups such as product type or customer loyalty. One final tip: you’ll probably need all hands on deck in the warehouse to fulfil and ship orders to your customers as quickly as possible. Don’t forget to schedule your warehouse staff accordingly.
Store Planning: Stock Placement and Human Resource Management (again)
Assuming you’ve already perfected your warehouse management processes and are doing everything mentioned above, now it’s time to replicate it. Everything you should be doing in the warehouse also applies to your bricks & mortar store. Store planning is the second process that will be absolutely crucial to a successful peak period and, specifically, a profitable Black Friday. Stock placement is just as important to customers as it is to your own staff back in the warehouse. Many companies use merchandising tools and implement sensors or video systems to analyse how customers interact with products within your store. If you know how long a customer is likely to stay in a certain area or where they are likely to move to next, you can organise your floor plan accordingly. Similarly, you can confidently bet your last dollar that the store will host more customers this Black Friday than any other week, so don’t be left short-staffed!
Inventory Management: Forecasting, Ordering, Storing and Moving Stock
Now, we move on to perhaps the most obvious process of them all. Did you know that if you’re going to sell more stock, you’re going to need to hold more stock? Go figure. Inventory management refers to forecasting, ordering, storing, and moving stock to meet the demands of your customers. No one can predict the future but last year saw a 61% increase in foot traffic on Black Friday compared to 2020, indicating the return of in-store habits. Forecasting does not only relate to a rise in overall sales, and demographics/spending habits within individual stores should be studied to stock certain stores with high levels of certain (more popular) SKUs. Having the ability to move stock between locations will be crucial for your business, and, Excellent Zephyr customer, Gym+Coffee has just implemented a new intercompany transfer order workflow to do just that. Regarding the on-floor sales process, we’ve already touched on the need for more staff, but they may need to be deployed differently this year. If you were someone who didn’t offer a curbside pickup option last year, you potentially lost out on the up to 50% higher revenue growth seen by those who did. Mobilising staff and stock and having the ability to pick and pack on premises and deliver to shoppers’ cars will allow them to avoid the crowds and, in turn, results in a less chaotic experience for staff manning the POS.
No one wants to hear what I’m about to say, but after you sell out in the best Black Friday & Cyber Monday period your business has ever had, and just as you’re about to put your feet up, customers are going to start sending products back by the truckload. Between 2019 and 2021, we saw a massive 129% year-on-year increase in return volumes. Your returns process is just as important as everything we’ve mentioned previously, and it will define your customer loyalty. Who will shop with you next year? Or even next week? Having a localised returns portal which is fully integrated with your couriers to provide real-time updates about the status of the return is crucial. Suppose you’re looking to go the extra mile (which you should be). In that case, extra value can be added through various returns options, including return-to-store, gift cards and live exchanges (especially for loyal customers). With returns, communication is key. The customer is probably already naturally frustrated, so you need to make the returns process as simple as possible to follow with as many updates and options as possible.
Accounting: Your Core Financial Processes
Now that we’ve got the frustration of returns out of the way let’s finish speaking about something that everyone likes: money! Or, more precisely, let’s touch on how you’re recording and tracking your money. Implementing an ERP such as NetSuite to sit at the heart of your business means that all of your major processes we have mentioned can be completed, automated, displayed and analysed in one place and in real time. But to add a cherry on top, your core financial processes (yes, we are still talking about money) of procure-to-pay, order-to-cash, and record-to-report where the pillars upon which NetSuite, or NetLedger at the time, were built upon. Ensuring that you have refined, streamlined and (hopefully) automated these processes will save you time and money when Black Friday rolls around. By the way, we are holding a webinar with P2P experts, Yooz, next month to dive deeper into how automating this process can impact your business for peak period. Sign up here (coming soon).
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