Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest retail days in a year, for most businesses.
A good number of online businesses 11 months analyzing data, planning discounts, and building inventories just to prepare for the Thanksgiving week. One mistake many ecommerce businesses make is not paying enough attention to logistics.
During the Thanksgiving rush, a single mistake can throw off your entire supply chain. The holiday rush can get so hectic that last year, UPS hired more than 100,000 additional employees, in order to handle the anticipated increase parcel volume.
Seeing how order numbers are about to skyrocket during Black Friday, it’s important to prepare your business to handle it.
If your business isn’t ready just yet, this blog post is for you. We’re going to cover:
- What can you do to make sure your store is prepared for BFCM
- The biggest logistic challenges your store will face during the holidays
- How to create a complete logistics plan in five easy-to-follow steps
So let’s dive into it.
How to Prepare Your Online Store for BFCM
During the holidays, the competition for consumers’ attention can be fierce. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, most store owners have already spent months developing BFCM marketing strategies and planning deals.
But if your website isn’t fully prepared for the occasion, you say goodbye to BFCM profit. Check out our complete guide to BFCM for ecommerce for more tips.
Check Website Performance
Around 45% of consumers buy only from brands they trust. Nothing can destroy your credibility and customer relationship quicker than a low-functioning website. Having a website capable of handling a huge surge of visitors is especially important during the holidays.
For starters, make sure that the store functions properly on both mobile and desktop devices. Last year, almost 40% of Black Friday online sales came from phones and tablets.
There are a lot of things that can slow your website down. In order to see if everything is working as it should, you need to check it. You can do this by going to Google PageSpeed Insights and running a checkup for free.
Have a Look at Your Inventory
While keeping track of inventory may be low on your totem pole of customer support Black Friday tasks, it’s important to be aware of. Your inventory can affect everything from advertising to logistics.
One possible solution is to start using inventory management software in the months leading up to the Black Friday weekend. One solution is to use the Emerge App, which allows you to keep track of every single piece of inventory.
Inventory management solutions will help you know which products need to be restocked and which ones you can start pushing early. If a certain item has failed to sell out after more than 12 months, you can put a high discount on it. Examine your inventory in time and plan everything accordingly.
Prepare Your Workers
Once Black Friday comes around, your workers better be ready to handle the increase in orders, BFCM returns, and complaints. If you want to keep satisfaction levels high, customer service agents need to do their jobs correctly. And in order for them to do their job, you need to make sure that they’re trained.
Talk to your staff. See if they’re aware that things are about to become more frantic than usual. Some workers thrive under pressure. Others aren’t accustomed to working in stressful situations. The best way to eliminate their fear – and subsequent mistakes – is to put in work and train them.
If they want to nail customer service, your workers need to:
- Respond to inquiries immediately
- Use positive/professional language
- Take a proactive approach to problem-solving
Logistics Challenges During BFCM
Last year, many retailers were caught by surprise by BFCM. Due to high discounts, many consumers hurried to make their purchases early. Those discounts pulled a bulk of sales into a narrow timeframe. Unsurprisingly, some merchants weren’t expecting such a high demand.
Since most people will do a majority of their shopping online this BFCM weekend, you can expect a busy year again. Here are some logistic challenges that you’ll face in 2022.
The Demand Can Vary Significantly
The biggest logistics challenge is the lack of control retailers have during the Black Friday weekend. Year-to-year, demand isn’t consistent. This can happen for many reasons. For instance, this year, in the United States, the demand may not be so high.
That’s because the last November payday falls after Black Friday. This will eliminate the spur-of-the-moment purchases. On the other hand, more people have probably saved up money during quarantine. All of these factors make the entire ordeal hard to predict.
Lack of Communication
As we said earlier, even the biggest players in the delivery game like FedEx are forced to add capacity to meet the ever-increasing demands during BFCM. No matter what company you’re working with, chances are, they might not be able to deliver all of your product on time.
But you have to talk to them and find out for yourself.
If you’re not communicating with your logistics partner, you won’t be able to create a delivery commitment schedule that’s manageable. By making unrealistic claims, you can jeopardize your entire operation and lose a lot of customers.
Unrealistic Delivery Expectations
Large online stores like Amazon, Walmart, and Target all offer next-day delivery. To compete with them, many small and mid-sized companies are offering this option as well. However, during Black Friday, this may be impossible to maintain.
While you want to offer fast delivery you need to be realistic with yourself as well as your customers. You can discuss this with your delivery company. If the delivery company you're working with can’t handle the load, notify your customers.
And don’t worry, most consumers prefer honesty over speed.
How to Plan BFCM Logistics in 5 Steps
Black Friday is unpredictable and so are the consumers. If you really want to have a successful Thanksgiving week, you need to be able to adapt to any situation. And you can do this by making sure that your business is prepared for the unexpected.
Here are five steps you need to take in order to bulletproof your logistics and get your store ready just in time for BFCM.
1. Conducting Demand Forecasting
If you take the time to prepare for Black Friday, you can expect good results. And by results, we do mean sales. But make sure you’re communicating delivery times, and following through with orders. Otherwise, you risk a ton of complaints, emails, and negative comments.
To be prepared, you need to do some demand forecasting.
What’s demand forecasting, you might ask? Simply put, it’s a way of calculating how many sales you can expect to generate during a certain period.
Your supply chain management solution probably has the ability to give you a demand forecast. In addition, talk to your supplier, they’re probably watching Black Friday trends closely and doing their own market research. They can possibly help you find the right level of product you should be carrying on BFCM.
2. Preparing Great Shipping Deals
When talking about customer satisfaction levels, you can’t overlook delivery. Your customers want to be in the know. They want to know exactly when their order will arrive. As a matter of fact, 9 out 10 shoppers feel that on-time delivery is extremely important.
Timely delivery is one thing, but you know what will really make you look good in the eyes of your customers? Making the shipping free. Not sure about it? Well, just consider this: more than 85% of Black Friday sales Salesforce tackled in 2019 had free shipping.
If you’re afraid that you’ll lose a lot of money this way, just consider this an investment. Your customers will be happy with their purchase and will surely come back after BFCM. Keep this in mind: 85% of customers prefer free shipping to fast delivery.
3. Making an Effort With Customer Service
Everyone feels overwhelmed at times during a Black Friday sale. But no matter how hectic things become, you need to make sure that every customer question and request gets answered in short amount of time.
Customer service is important all year round, but during the holiday season, it’s extremely important. Many customers will come across your website for the first time during the BFCM weekend. You want to leave a great first impression, don’t you?
Some customers will contact you directly, while others will message you on social media. Your help desk should allow you to see and answer all of these messages as quickly as possible. With Gorgias, you can decrease your first -response time by 78%.
4. Automate As Much As You Can
Many aspects of your business operations can be automated. Countless companies lose countless hours every month on needless tasks. Now is the perfect time to get ahead and start automating. Customer support is a great place to start to solve tickets quicker and drive revenue.
By notifying your customers about the status of their purchase quickly, you’ll undoubtedly let them know that they can trust you. Also, if you’re working with a small delivery company, you should check to see if your supplier is up-to-date.
According to a recent study, one-third of warehouses in the United States are working with outdated storage and management equipment. New equipment is much faster and will prevent any delays in delivery. Make sure that your 3rd-party supplier is legitimate.
5. Setting Up Reverse Logistics
The reality of any holiday seasons is: people can change their minds in a second. That’s why we see so many abandoned shopping carts and returned products. Even though you’ll hope for no returns, you need to be prepared for them.
You can do this by doing some reverse logistics. This should be a part of every supply chain. In reverse logistics, the goods move from the end user back to the seller. The returned products may be disposed of in some cases, but more often than not, they’re resold.
Reverse logistics may relate to any of these activities after the purchase:
- Product returns
- Product refurbishing
- Damaged packaging
- Delivery failure
To prevent delivery failure, you can easily set up an order tracking page that will allow your customers to know about the status of their purchase at any time.
Don’t Forget to Keep Your Shoppers in the Loop!
Preparing for the Black Friday weekend can be stressful. There are dozens of business aspects you need to prepare for the increase in orders. Logistics is one of the most important elements of your operation, so you need to put in extra work.
Let’s go over the basics again. In the months leading up to BFCM, your business should:
- What’s the demand for your products and restock accordingly
- Prepare good shopping deals for your customers worldwide
- Beef up your customer service and implement live chat
- Automate tickets and work with automated warehouses
- Set up reverse logistics to prepare for product returns
Keeping the customers satisfied should be your #1 concern. If you manage to do that during the BFCM weekend, they’ll surely come back to your stare after the holiday.
You can’t leave the customers waiting for their shipment or a response. To ensure that, you need a handy helpdesk. That’s why you should try out Gorgias.
Gorgias is an ecommerce help desk that allows users to provide multichannel customer service from a single dashboard.
Go ahead, sign up for Gorgias, get your 15-day free trial, and see your customer satisfaction rates skyrocket.