Every day is Black Friday: Preparing your E-Commerce business for a permanent shift in consumer behaviour

Adobe Analytics predicted that Black Friday 2020 would see a 20% increase in revenue across the weekend compared to customer spending last year.

The huge changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic look set to make this year’s Black Friday weekend a watershed moment for high streets and e-commerce businesses alike. Adobe Analytics predicted that Black Friday 2020 would see a 20% increase in revenue across the weekend compared to customer spending last year.

While this trend towards e-commerce is hardly new, we predict that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online retail by as much as five years. A report from Accenture analysed data from 38,000 companies and household spending data from 15 countries to find out how shoppers are buying and concluded that almost 70% of UK shoppers will be most comfortable at home over the next six months – driving a shift to online retail and entertainment.

While many e-commerce businesses would have been preparing operations for a busier Black Friday than last year, regardless of the pandemic, this data suggests that the shift in consumer behaviour may be more permanent. With this in mind, what can businesses do to prepare for the shift in consumer behaviour in the retail sector?

Integrate marketplaces

For retailers with multiple marketplaces and couriers, it can be difficult to keep track of what goes where and who ordered what, particularly if you see a spike in demand over holidays or the Black Friday weekend.

At these busy times, it is not possible to manage inventory levels on these platforms individually. By using a dashboard that displays all marketplaces and courier channels in one place, you can see one version of the truth and ensure you never miss anything.

Complement your physical offering

Online retailers may not store, or even technically own, the products they sell but use a third party to do this for them. This unlocks the potential for a wider range of products for your customers and allows you to get an upper hand on competitors.

For retailers facing a difficult time, a drop shipping approach can give consumers access to a wider range without increasing warehouse costs. If you take this approach, choosing a provider with an Order Management System (OMS) such as Access MintSoft allows you to white label goods, which makes them appear to be directly shipped from your store.

Dropshipping can squeeze margins and extra pressure is placed on the capabilities of your fulfilment house to minimise errors, but it offers E-commerce businesses looking to scale the opportunity to trial new ranges or product categories with increased flexibility and minimised investment.

Communicate with your supply chain

Anyone who experienced the challenges of booking a grocery delivery slot over recent months will have first-hand experience of just some of the consequences of increased demand on the retail supply chain. The good news is that UK warehouses now appear to be fully prepared for heightened demand, although Amazon has encouraged early shopping this Christmas to avoid shipping delays.

Ahead of busy periods, it is vital to proactively communicate with your fulfilment house and parcel carriers to ensure they are fully briefed on the scale of orders that are anticipated and collection schedules. The last thing businesses want is for the orders to be ready to go, only for the network to lack the capacity to deliver them. Regular communication means that any new product launches or promotional offers can be shared early enough to give warehouse operatives the chance to prepare.

Barcode scanning

Barcode scanning technology has seen a significant amount of interest over recent months, and when choosing a fulfilment house that has made this investment can further streamline the process.

Using an app, it’s easy to scan every stock movement, both inbound and outbound, to increase stock accuracy, pick accuracy and efficiency.

Automated order management

When you’re faced with a deluge of orders, it can be easy to feel like you’re working 24/7 at times. Putting an OMS in place ensures your marketplaces are ‘staffed’ even when you’re not there.

Our recent blog found that 10pm is the most popular time for shoppers to place orders. Putting automated order management systems in place means orders that come in after you step away from your computer can still begin to be fulfilled by updating your inventory, taking payment and creating shipping labels. This system can also send these details on to your fulfilment house automatically, resulting in fewer delays and quicker delivery times.

Black Friday will continue to generate huge sales, but these shifts in consumer behaviour means that previous records for the weekend may pale in comparison to a regular Monday or Tuesday in the future.

The next few months remain uncertain, but the growing trend towards e-commerce is likely to continue and it is vital that retailers are doing all they can to prepare their business for the new normal.

To find out more about automated order management systems, visit Mintsoft.

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