Marina Vassilopoulos writes for Cloud9 Fulfilment
Black Friday is an important day in retailers’ calendars. It marks the start of the holiday shopping season. As a result, online fulfilment centers need to be prepared for a surge in online sales.
Retail Week recently discovered the number of people planning to buy presents online has increased dramatically in recent years. Some believe this is due to the fact that the price of goods is cheaper online, others think it’s because of the convenience of doing your shopping online. Whatever the reason, the figures show that almost half (48%) of UK consumers plan to do their last minute gift buying online before the big day!
Cloud9 Fulfilment has compiled several tips to help retailers prepare for the Black Fridays rush.
Streamlined Delivery Methods
For any retailer who offers Black Friday sales, they should strive for maximum revenues by streamlining their deliveries and providing their customers with multiple shipping options. A seamless shopping experience combined with an efficient shipping process may encourage repeat purchases, as shoppers enjoy a reliable and convenient ordering system.
Furthermore, the current online shopping climate allows consumers extreme flexibility, being able to buy from any store that best suits their needs at any time. In many cases, the desire for choice is related to delivery services.
Free delivery is one such method for increasing conversions. A study by Bigfeet found that conversions can increase by up to 50% when a brand chooses to introduce free shipping. Whether you want to give away free shipping as an incentive for new business or keep existing clients happy, this is an excellent tactic to use.
Offering both initial and current consumers flexibility regarding shipping, such as next-day delivery, can also lead to further sales. A recent study of 800 retaries by Temadog revealed that brands discovered their sales go up by an incredibly high 86% when variety was introduced!
Environmentally Friendly Shipping Options
According to an IBM survey conducted in 2019, 77 percent of consumers consider buying products from companies that practice environmental responsibility as “moderately important.” Choosing to pursue green marketing tactics will not only improve your company’s image but may also help draw in new users who share your views.
Green marketing is an increasingly important part of any business’ marketing strategy because most people today are concerned about the environment. If you don’t take steps to promote sustainability, you could lose out on sales.
There are several ways you can incorporate sustainable or greener shipping methods into peak sales events like Black Friday, including:
- Offsetting carbon dioxide emissions
- Using eco-friendly packing materials and/or minimizing your packaging sizes
- Using ground-based shipment methods
- Use a thermal printer for printing barcode
- Using environmentally friendly options offered by large mailer companies
As an added bonus, by encouraging consumers to use eco-friendly delivery services, your company is helping to promote sustainable practices. By supporting companies who offer environmentally friendly options, you’re making a positive impact on our planet.
Forecasting To Predict Consumer Patterns
If you learn how to properly predict Black Friday, you’ll be able to easily approach all major sale seasons with ease, particularly Black Monday through to Christmas.
It is important to forecast so that you can adequately plan for your Black Friday operations. A thorough forecast means that you’ll be able to determine which items sell best, identify slow-selling items, and keep enough inventory to satisfy customer demands.
To best prepare for Black Friday, you should first study the history of your own company’s previous Black Fridays. You should then analyze the current market conditions and assess whether there are any new products or services that could be added to your product line. Finally, you should consider your own company’ strategy regarding prices during these busy times.
Furthermore, having a good forecast will enable you to prepare for any changes to your usual delivery method. For example, if Royal Mail goes on strike during the year (such as in 2022), it would be imperative to have a backup plan in place for any alterations.
Comprehensive Inventory Management
Smart businesses should always be sure to regularly evaluate themselves and ensure that inventory management software is updated. The advantages of having good inventory management will help them save money, track their inventory in real time, and predict future demand.
Ensuring your inventory meets the demand for Black Friday is therefore crucial – especially as the problems arising from an inadequate inventory are numerous. They include, but are not restricted to, shortages, longer lead times, and delayed shipments or deliveries.
You can also ensure high quality inventory management and achieve a profitable Black Friday by speaking to any third-parties involved in your sales process. Forecasting is extremely important for brands that depend upon dropshipping, as without an accurate forecast, you may find yourself empty-handed come Black Friday. Always speak to any drop shippers or third parties that are included in your marketing strategy and ask them about their forecasts before you advertise your deals.
This step will allow you to finalize the products that will appear in your Black Friday sales. By using your forecasting and discussions with your suppliers to identify which products are popular and assessing their stocks, you will then be able determine the best products to offer at discounted prices.
Advertise the items that will be included in Black Friday sales in advance so that people know what to expect when visiting your store. Early advertising of key items helps encourage visitors to your store.
Use High-Tech Supply Chain and Delivery Technology
With supply chain management software, companies can improve their operations by increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, and providing better services for their customers.
It’s important to use this tool during times when there is high stress and uncertainty in your business, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Key features of logistics and transportation solutions that may help during peak sales periods include:
- Optimisation of shipping processes
- Improved agility and insight
- Streamlined quality control
- Reduced overhead costs
- Real time access to data for higher efficiency rate
- Meeting your consumer demand
- Risk mitigation
An Exhaustive Returns Policy
A returns policy is one of the most important ways for a company to show its customers that they care and want them to feel comfortable using their services.
Unfortunately, there are downsides to lax customer service policies. eCommerce brands are subject to refund fraud, with 10.7% of all online purchases being fraudulent as of 2021. Businesses should consequently be informed about what refund fraud is, how it occurs, and how to combat such issues. The risk of refund fraud is particularly high during Black Friday, when you’re likely to have many new or one off customers who do not have loyalty to the business.
There are several ways in which return scams can happen depending on the industry you’re operating in, but they might involve:
- Opportunistic claims
- Empty box fraud
- Swapping merchandise
- Wardrobing or free renting
- Bricking electronics
While these dangers can often be difficult to avoid, there are a variety of methods you can take to reduce your chances of being scammed. One of the most effective things you can do is provide proof of purchase. A receipt provides a record of what was purchased, so you can verify if they’re telling the truth about having made a purchase. Order numbers and other details also allow you to cross reference statements against your own records. You can also ask them to send you an image of their ID card, driving license or passport.
Next, you should give your customers a short return window to discourage wardrobe changes and allow genuine exchanges to take place. This protection may be complemented by having a clearly stated return/exchange policies available on your website, with mentions to acceptable conditions for returning products. A clearly stated return/exchanges policies protect your company from people trying to return damaged or used goods.
You can use fraud prevention software and technologies to help prevent fraudulent activity. These tools allow for thorough record keeping, which allows you to review user accounts and determine why they’re returning goods.
Returns are unavoidable but fraudulent returns are not. You need to protect your brand from fraudulent returns so that your relationship with loyal clients blossoms during Black Friday and beyond.
Cloud9 Fulfilment uses over 10 years of expertise to provide orderfulfilment, inventory, shipping and returns management solutions to the eCommerce industry.