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How to prepare for increased demand ahead of Black Friday

Black Friday is the serious start to the holiday shopping season. This year it’s on November 29th – so, there are just a few weeks left to get ready.

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The serious Black Friday players have been preparing for months – since last Black Friday when they reviewed their operation and identified all the big and little things, they could do better in 2019. It’s a serious business as for many retailers their holiday performance informs their whole year profit performance.

Let’s assume you are not one of the retail businesses that have Black Friday planned within an inch of its life. What can you do to improve your Black Friday profits in the time left?

Focus on the three main drivers of success – stock, team and marketing. All three have to work together and a failure in one of them will impact the overall success significantly.

Stock

Make sure the stock is in your stores in good time for Black Friday.  And, check your stores have the space to organise and store it so they can easily find it when the sales roll in. Finding a box of best sellers in the corner of the warehouse the day after the offer finishes is a sure sign you missed opportunities.

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Let your stores know when the stock will arrive and how much there will be, so they can have the people they need available at the right time. Ensure they have a plan to get the stock in place before the store opens, and don’t forget the time and people you’ll need to set up your in-store promotional messages too.

Sounds simple and obvious yet problems with stock availability is cited in CEO reports of multiple retailers who’ve failed to hit their expected sales.

Team

Plan your team for the day. Sort out the rotas, move days off, bring in enough extra cover so customers can get their hands on your bargain lines and pay without suffering in a long queue. Or, worse still, walk out because the saving just isn’t worth the wait.

Think hard about when your busiest times will be and make sure you plan shifts and breaks accordingly. And, it can be useful to open earlier than usual – especially if your competitors and other shops in your centre are opening early too.  Black Friday is not the day to trim team hours and try and save a little money – speculate to accumulate.

Marketing

Messaging matters – you want to let your customers know about the great bargains available in your stores.

If you’ve not got a good marketing plan yet, review it and consider how you can reach the most customers as quickly as possible. Digital marketing will be your friend as it has the best reach and quickest set times – you’re probably too late now for print media messages.

If you’ve got the stock, team and messaging right you should have everything in order to deliver great sales.

To cope with the unexpected and ensure your team are able to react to the challenges that a busy trading day can throw at them, your managers need to be at their best. The golden rule for peak trading is keep your managers away from hands-on work. Their job that day is to organise, survey and marshal your resources to make the most of the day.

Simon Hedaux is founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity.