Preparing for Black Friday: The Inventory Guide

September, 2021
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Black Friday is just around the corner. Are you prepared? If your answer is no, don’t worry. With this guide on inventory management, you can be ready to take advantage of Black Friday and get a jump start on Cyber Monday. This article will walk you through the steps of preparing for Black Friday.

What is Black Friday? 

Black Friday is the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving in the US. American retailers use this to start their Christmas shopping season with incredible discounts and bargains that would have shoppers breaking down the doors to get their hands on them. 

Fast forward to the present where online shopping is a regular occurrence and social distancing is compulsory, retailers have had to diversify their offering and put multichannel options in place. 

For the last couple of years in Australia, the sales have kicked off about 2 days prior to the actual Black Friday date and continue until the following Monday, which is known as Cyber Monday. Shoppers have the opportunity to shop for almost a week, provided that the retailers are able to keep up with the demand. 

Preparing for Black Friday

For retailers, there is a large amount of preparation that needs to happen before Black Friday.

These tasks include: 

  • Training and educating staff on the deals and the fast-moving stock
  • Schedule the best staff to avoid backup lines
  • Have staff available to handle potential emergencies and customer care issues
  • Move store racks, shelves and displays to facilitate easier shopping
  • Check inventory to ensure the deals are accounted for

Inventory will still potentially be an issue for retailers during this period. This is due to supply chain concerns like material scarcity, delayed supplier lead times and  Managing this inventory is easiest with a reliable inventory management system and a scanning system which will allow items to be scanned in easily.

Inventory management and BFCM

The stock that will be promoted for BFCM needs to be promoted as early as possible, especially if they need to be sourced or manufactured. Suppliers and manufacturers will need leeway to get products ready. 

Retailers will also need to decide which products to order, which can be done through a few different demand forecasting methods. Start with historical data from your reports, filtered by the previous year’s BFCM season. That will help you to see which products sell well. 

Before BFCM, take stock of your inventory before the season hits. Ensure that you have enough of your most popular products, and have a strategy to clear some of the dead stock from your shelves. 

All aspects of the logistics and supply chain will also feel the pressure of Black Friday to get packages to the retailers as well as get packages out. Optimize your fulfilment process by using an inventory management system to ensure quick execution and management. Using an inventory management system will allow you to track your inventory in real-time. It’ll help your operations run smoother during the holiday rush. 

  1. Organise your fulfilment area
    No matter where you pack, you will want to make sure your most popular products are accessible for quicker picking and packing. 
  2. Hire additional staff
    During the BFCM period, you might need to hire some help to fulfil and ship orders. 
  3. Over-communicate
    Communicating clearly and regularly with your delivery team can help avoid errors and save time
  4. Prioritize and organize your orders
    Plan in advance how you want to prioritize your orders. For example, you may want to prioritise certain customer types or by delivery location or method. 

Consider the Customer Experience

Customer experience is the perception that customers create based on their interactions with a company, online or in-store. When it comes to eCommerce stores, this is largely influenced by communication.

6 ways to improve the customer experience for your online store

  1. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly as more shoppers use their mobile devices to do their shopping.

  2. Be where your audience is. Increase your omnichannel offering to include social media platforms. Providing your audience with more options will offer the best customer experience. Social commerce is a rapidly growing online sales channel that shouldn’t be ignored.

    Although just as increasing your omnichannel options could improve your customer experience, if you are unable to track your inventory across channels, it could also cause customer dissatisfaction.

  3. Create user-friendly product pages that explain what they need to know about a product. Things to consider include images, specific product details like size, weight, colour, material and customer reviews.

  4. Make checkout easy, intuitive and simple for customers. Options like a customer care chat, or saving cart details for next time will go a long way to increase customer happiness.

  5. Today, customer service needs to be fast and available across a variety of channels. Be available through social media, online chat, email and any other options you have made available to your audience. If you are able to answer queries quickly, customers are more forgiving.

  6. 75% of consumers have come to expect free and fast shipping. When possible, you should offer free shipping. Studies have shown that customers have increased their orders to qualify for free shipping. 
Current Systems & Setups

During the busy season, you will want to check your systems to make sure that they are robust. In particular, you will want to check your POS setup and your inventory management systems. If possible, update your payment options to include more options.

Don’t forget to review and reconcile your bookkeeping records during this season. You will need all of your systems to interlink for accurate reporting. 

During BFCM, you will want to quickly analyze how your business has performed as well as gain insights that you can use for future strategies. Consider installing a dashboard to help you evaluate your BFCM, quickly, accurately and effortlessly.

Some stats that a dashboard could report on: 

  • Revenue earned
  • Refunds
  • Traffic during BFCM
  • Money-making promotional channel
  • Highest visited pages on the website
  • Product comparisons
  • Historical comparisons
  • New vs Returning customers

Interested in installing a dashboard? Speak to one of our WAO Business Services’ consultants about a custom dashboard to overview your inventory, sales channels, marketing and more. The possibilities are endless. Book a session with a Senior Systems Architect today.

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Black Friday Cyber Monday is a busy period for Retailers and eCommerce stores alike. Your inventory management system is an important tool and asset during this busy season. 

Make sure that your inventory management system is running smoothly and at optimum levels. If you aren’t certain, consider getting your inventory management system a health check. WAOConnect offers a complimentary Health Check on your inventory management system. Book a session with a Senior Systems Architect today.

Are you ready to bring that perfect system in your head to life?

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