With only 180 days until Christmas it’s time to ensure your supply chain is ready

Liam McElroy
posted by Liam McElroy
25 June 2015

Black Friday has firmly taken root as the busiest shopping day of the year in the UK, with over £1.3 billion spent during last year’s event.

With less than six months until Black Friday 2015 (November 27), it is essential that retailers, suppliers and logistics companies finalise their strategies as soon as possible to make the most of this unique retail opportunity.

Last year’s event became famous for cancelled and late orders, as many companies struggled to deliver, extending their delivery windows to as much as 72 hours or even cancelling orders due to lack of capacity. In fact, research by IMRG showed delivery backlogs from Black Friday 2014 resulted in just 85 per cent of orders being delivered on time. This damaged the reputation of some brands and reduced profits for those that could not meet consumer expectations.

This US import has fundamentally changed the UK shopping landscape, bringing the Christmas peak forward significantly – with 66 per cent of consumers planning their festive shopping to coincide with Black Friday, according to The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). This requires retailers and suppliers to be more proactive in planning around the festive period, with staffing, stock, warehousing and transport needing to be aligned with changing consumer expectations.

With effective planning, Black Friday could be one of the highlights of the year for retailers and their partners. But without it, it could be one of the low points, and memories of poor service will last longer than the sales in the minds of consumers. Here are some top tips to plan for Black Friday:

Connected business. Black Friday and Cyber Monday (November 30) are responsible for the biggest online sales of the year, and as such a great influx of goods into the supply chain. Understanding your promotional items and learning from last year’s event will be key to being prepared for this year’s event.

Don’t forget transport. While the majority of purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be made in a virtual space, physical goods still need to get to customers, and consumers now expect next day delivery with shorter time frames. Misjudging your transport capacity is a sure-fire way to guarantee unhappy customers.

In store space. Some 64 per cent of customers bought a product in-store when collecting their 'click and collect' order, according to BCG. It is crucial normal service is maintained to keep stock levels at a premium to maximise profitability in store.

Communicate and collaborate. Data is key to understanding consumer demand and how to improve efficiency. Sharing this between supply chain partners will support the design of the most effective approach for retailers.

Liam McElroy is managing director for retail at Wincanton

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