US-imported discount day Black Friday can be very profitable for UK retailers but they must learn from last year and avoid panic discounting, ecommerce trade body IMRG has warned.
In a report published today, Black Friday 2015 – managing the peak, IMRG outlines five recommendations to help businesses avoid the logistical problems experienced in the immediate aftermath of last year’s Black Friday, on November 28.
IMRG said the surge in sales “greatly exceeded everyone’s expectations”, which meant a large number of online orders were compressed into a far shorter period of time than anticipated, triggering an “online retail delivery tsunami”. This heavily impacted carrier and retailer fulfilment operations for days afterwards.
Its recommendations for a more successful Black Friday in 2015 are:
- Better communication between retailers and logistics operators, as well as to shoppers through the media
- Tactical discounting
- Better planning, including forecasting, to improve customer services and lead times
- A flexible delivery promise
- Using a variety of fulfilment solutions, including click-and-collect
Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG, said: “The huge surge in demand on Black Friday 2014 was unprecedented and caught everyone in the industry by surprise. The exact form of it may evolve in 2015, but at least this time we have a precedent and time to develop strategies to ensure the Christmas peak runs as efficiently as possible.
“It’s fair to say that Black Friday splits opinion, but the impact of it is so vast that it affects all retailers whether they run campaigns or not. The key points for industry to address are around how to smooth out the spike – even spreading it over a few days would make a massive difference to fulfilment operations – and managing expectation so that customers receive accurate and up-to-date information about the progress of their orders.”