Whilst traditionally an American lead retail event, UK retailers over the last few years have begun to adopt Black Friday as a key sales period, with UK consumers now eagerly awaiting the date, which will run through to Cyber Monday, on 1st December. So assuming your marketing campaigns have been well thought out, email offers scheduled, and rescheduled, then you simply need to make sure you’re ready to fulfil all those extra orders.

4 fulfilment tips to make Black Friday a Success

1. Be as flexible as possible

Black Friday is typically unlike any other sales period, in that sales will entice regular customers, new customers, and lapsed customers. Orders can arrive in large batches, if for example you’re offering Lightening deals like Amazon, or orders can be steady, throughout the day or the weekend. One thing’s for sure, any warehouse team or eCommerce fulfilment provider will need to be in close contact with the marketing team to ensure an effective resource plan is in place to meet demand.

This may mean operating the warehouse on a 24/7 basis over the weekend, or it may mean hiring temporary staff to cover the additional demand. In the days/weeks leading up to Black Friday, it’s likely you may be carrying more stock, so ensure before the day itself ensure you have adequate storage and pick locations for these products, so that during the period, orders can be picked as effectively and efficiently as possible.

If certain SKU’s or product lines are going to be promoted, rather than a blanket offer across all products, then consider moving these products to a premium location, closer to the packing desk, to minimise walking time between picks. How you organise the warehouse will be very important in ensuring Black Friday runs smoothly.

It’s also important to consider how these extra sales will affect customer service teams. Ensure your contact centre is also prepared with additional advisors, and perhaps additional product knowledge depending on the products on offer over the weekend.

2. Offer a range of delivery options

As many as 46% of customers have abandoned baskets due to delivery concerns. On Black Friday, customers shop for a variety of reasons, from bargain hunting to christmas gift shopping, so customers will also expect a range of delivery options to meet their needs. This may include premium delivery services such as next day, weekend, and named day services, as well a click and collect option.

Free delivery over Black Friday weekend will also be a key driver for many in further boosting sales, however, be careful with margin due to already discounted sale prices. Many retailers may be able to claw back some lost product margin by upping free delivery thresholds to increase average order values.

3. Make sure carriers are prepared for additional volumes

It’s not just your warehouse or e-fulfilment provider which needs to be prepared for increased volumes. Your carrier partners also need to be prepared to handle increased volumes, and likely require a specific demand plan to meet your needs. In this case, it makes sense to secure your volume commitment early to guarantee availability.

4. Be ready for Boomerang Thursday

The Thursday following Black Friday has been described as Boomerang Thursday, due to the influx of returns retailers typically see flooding back into their e-fulfilment warehouse.

It’s just as important to be able to process these returns smoothly and efficiently, as it is to get orders out on black Friday itself. This prevents customer dissatisfaction, and increases the likelihood of customers shopping more frequently.

A free returns policy will be another key driver of sales over Black Friday weekend. as Royal Mail points out, 87% of shoppers feel that free and easy returns policies encourage them to purchase online.