Going big on Black Friday? Here are 5 tips to get your warehouse ready.

Black Friday 2020 definitely stood out from the ordinary way because it was mostly online. Most shops were either closed or had a limit capacity, and, therefore, put extra effort in arranging its e-commerce sector to thrive. 2021 will not only bring pre-covid crowds to stores, but a solid mixture of both channels. Online, however, is forecasted to reign.

Black Friday in 2020 in Europe brought a sales increase of 14% compared to 2019. With this said, there were a few successful sectors: Home & Garden products (52%), Sporting Goods & Hobbies (19%), Pet Supplies (60%), Food & Beverage (45%). (source) With this in mind, customers from the Nordic markets tend to support local retailers. Let’s take Sweden as an example. Black Friday 2020 demonstrated that purchases from international e-tailers accounted for only 6% of total sales from November 25th. (source) This is a great opportunity for local online platforms to get ready for the holiday in terms of clear communication, well-planned stock and highly efficient intralogistics.

Do not let anything mess with your sales triumph!

  1. Think “yesterday”

You need to know your top products

With online retail, the stock has an extremely wide range of products. The demand among them is very flexible and changing from day to day. The only solution for not having the most in-demand items out of stock is to maintain thorough statistics. A wise approach here will be to analyse weekly or monthly the sales for each SKU to track the trends and define the top products. This will allow the online retailer to arrange the storage in the best possible way.  For example, the best sellers will go to the area with quick access to infeed, picking and outfeed stations for a faster flow of goods.

A complete WMS system tracking goods in- and outflows will be a huge help.

  1. We are here to help

You need to delegate DC process design to the experts

Booming e-commerce leaves businesses no other choice but to keep up. It is a great thing when the industry you operate in is growing. However, such a rapid pace can be a challenge in terms of required investments vs. the currently available budget. With this concept in mind, some companies start with developing the solution in-house. This may work out well but do not overlook the potential risks. These could be getting a temporary solution without the needed future expansion degree in mind or simply not picking the best combination available on the market. It may be a pragmatic approach to contact an expert in intralogistics and delegate them the job of selecting one of the thousand options and designing a tailor-made system to cover your need for today, tomorrow and the years to come.

  1. “We would like to return this”

You need efficient return handling

And this will happen a lot. In the traditional and well-known brick-and-mortar concept, it is a default function to return something that did not fit in any aspect of you or your lifestyle. With the lack of physical contact with the item before purchase, it is only logical to see a much higher degree of returns. A wrong item can be delivered, the goods can come with damage from delivery services or it can simply turn out to be a misunderstanding of size, functions set or appearance of the product. A business can lower the returns rate by improving its picking solution, reviewing delivery contracts and adding more detailed product descriptions to the platform. However, a certain percentage will still exist. This leaves a spot for return handling process development. Whether it is done manually or with automation, returned goods need to be checked, repacked and placed for storage, processed within the inventory management system and marked available for the new orders. All of the above are to be completed fast and error-free.

  1. What about more places?

You need more picking stations if your business is affected by peak seasons

When the gap between ordinary day sales and peak season/holiday sales is big, it makes sense to have a few additional places organized in advance. With the picking stations, it does not require much more investment to increase the number. While for most of the days this station can be empty or merged with the next one to create a larger space, the space is already equipped to support you on Black Friday.

Regarding the inventory and storage locations, general advice would be to plan 20% to 30% more storage space to cover the peaks and leave a gap for growth while the necessary changes are processed.

  1. The big picture

You need to test run the system before the big sales day

Details only matter while they are arranged within a larger concept. When thinking about inventory, analytics, picking and returns handling, it is vital to also test-run the system prior to the full-capacity load. With multiple rearrangements in place, the process might have a bottleneck at some point, e.g. packing or delivery. Every part of the goods flow must be evenly efficient to maintain a smooth and easy process.

Once the peak season is over,  take a few days to celebrate. You know that you have earned it. However, it is never too early to start preparing for the next year. Especially for the e-commerce departments or if you have larger initiatives for the upcoming year.

We at SSI Schaefer know how challenging this season may be and how fruitful it can turn with the right preparation and planning in place. We are ready to support you with everything you need when reaching your business goals. Contact our sales team on +44 1264 386600.