Once confined to the US, Black Friday has now firmly cemented itself within the UK. More and more retailers are taking part in the November sales, with even Next, who traditionally refuses to offer pre-Christmas discounts, entering into the Black Friday bonanza for the first time last year to boost flagging sales.
As retailers prepare themselves for the 23rd November, it’s vital to include packing and logistics planning in these preparations.
Last year, Amazon created four new massive warehouses employing 3,500 people ahead of Black Friday – but of course that isn’t a feasible solution for every company.
We’ve previously highlighted ways to cope with seasonal demands in warehouses, including cleverly segregating warehouse space, using business intelligence software that helps manage and analyse large volumes of data, and creating temperature controlled environments to store different types of stock.
But according to Antalis, another issue that retailers will have to tackle ahead of Black Friday is how to deal with large volumes of returns.
Companies are seeing unprecedented levels of returns as more and more customers are shopping online and taking advantage of the ‘try before you buy’ culture that retail has adopted.
Now, consumers are over-buying online, purchasing more than they need or want to decide at home. This is leading to excessive returns. With that in mind, having a robust returns process in place is essential to keep efficiency at its peak.
In this instance, there is a real need for clear segregation between goods in and goods out. Temporary segregation is key in dealing with this short term spike in demand. Hoardfast, for example, can be used in warehouse environments to provide the necessary temporary segregation between goods in and goods out. Alternatively, for a more permanent solution, Flexiwall can be used.
Retail logistics require a certain level of management and planning during even the quietest periods, however, for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (26th November), the task is enormous. More transportation is needed, as well as back up plans in case there are any delays or problems within the supply chain.
With the volume of orders so high, due to Black Friday sales and the trend of over-buying and returning, any delays in shipping have the potential to disrupt the entire supply chain and cause orders to become backed up.
This can then cause problems within storage facilities as stock isn’t being moved as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Planning for this is vital to ensure operations run smoothly.
Taking advantage of omni-channel logistics can be extremely helpful during Black Friday. Omni-channel logistics can ensure that operations remain flexible and seamless, and mean that companies are not dependant on one default storage and distribution centre.
However retailers decide to tackle Black Friday, the most important thing is to have a plan in place beforehand and a backup plan just in case.