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Talking Business: Working together to manage the Black Friday peak

It’s fair to say that Black Friday isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, it became well and truly embedded in the national consciousness in 2014 and will be repeated in 2015.

Andy Mulcahy is the editor at ecommerce trade body IMRG

Andy Mulcahy is insight editor at ecommerce trade body IMRG

The surge in demand was unprecedented, caught everyone by surprise and caused huge logistical issues for carrier and retailer operations. But we have a precedent to work from now, so there is a clear opportunity for the industry to develop strategies to ensure the next Black Friday period runs efficiently and profitably while continuing to engage shoppers.

Black Friday is interesting as a retail concept because it can be interpreted as a shopping ‘period’ rather than a day – as opposed to Mother’s Day, which is tied to a specific Sunday, or Christmas Day, for example. This means retailers can choose to run campaigns over just a few hours, or even a few weeks if it fits their strategy.

This may help to smooth out the spike we saw in 2014, provided that detailed information on these campaigns is communicated between retailers and logistics operators to ensure forecasting accuracy, as well as out to shoppers through media.

Communicating accurate information and updates to customers is also key, and the delivery promise should be adapted quickly to manage expectation and avoid causing frustration.

In 2014 the media interest in Black Friday primed shoppers to hold off until it arrived – then a huge volume of Christmas sales happened at once. This meant the Christmas shopping period was slow to start and led to very heavy discounting from some to instigate activity. The discount rate will need to be rationalised to ensure Black Friday remains profitable.

Black Friday affects all retailers, even those who do not participate, as they all use the same carrier networks to an extent. So it is imperative that we work together to help ensure 2015’s event is a great success for retailers, carriers and, ultimately, shoppers.

To help support this process, IMRG has worked with retailers and logistics providers to produce a report on recommendations for managing the peak. You can download it here

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