Many shoppers have already started making their lists in preparation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year it falls on the weekend of November 29th and retailers are busy optimizing the shopping experience, prices, and inventory levels to make the most of the surge in shoppers. Both can be considered the biggest shopping days of the year for most retailers and are thus a great opportunity to maximize sales. Shoppers may be approaching the days of discounts either online or in-store and retailers must prepare for both. But regardless of channel, retailers need their supply chain planning in its best shape to prepare for increased demand. So how to ensure that your supply chain and logistics are ready for the weekend of November 29? Let’s take a look:
Double Check Product Manufacturing
You’ve likely already made some predictions based on previous year’s data on how much demand you can expect. Or perhaps, you’ve also leveraged machine learning to increase the accuracy of your forecasts. Either way, you have an idea of which products are likely to sell and in what amounts. Based on these predictions, you need to make sure that these products are being transported to your warehouses (if they are made overseas) and/or the right amounts are being manufactured to fulfill the anticipated demand. This is the time to double check delivery quantities, dates, account for possible delays and any other specifications that could put a hinge in your plans.
Optimize Inventory Across Stores
Now that you know how much products you need and that all product manufacturing and deliveries are taken care of, it is time to optimize stock levels across your stores. By analyzing in-store inventory and warehouse stock in relation to demographic and customer data you will be able to optimize the distribution of specific products across stores by predicting which items will sell in which location and how fast. This is another area where you can leverage machine learning to save some time and minimize errors as the algorithms will be able to identify complex patterns that could be missed by a human eye. Also, don’t forget to account for your online sales and make sure to have a separate estimation for those. More than $117 billion has been generated by online sales previously, making it a channel that must not be overlooked!
Prepare Your Website For Optimal Performance
This may not seem like an obvious one in relation to logistics and supply chain, but having a well functioning website that won’t crush from the surge of traffic is imperative. The better your online presence is working - the less likely it is to cause delays and problems down the line with deliveries and order placements. Double check that your IT team is ready for higher levels of activity on November 29 and that your distribution centers have seamless communication and procedures established with online order placements.
Communicate With Your Logistics Partners
As you are not the only retailer who will be making promotions on Black Friday and promising delivery by Christmas, transportation companies will most certainly be overwhelmed with servicing all of their customers. It is best to get in front of any issues that are bound to arise by establishing good communication with your logistics partners including hiring additional resources. Any information that you can provide them with in relation to demand, orders, etc. will be highly valued as they will be able to prepare their resources in advance, thus reducing extra stress on the important days.
To conclude, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are key days for most retailers which often account for up to 30% of annual sales. To make the most of the increase in customers, retailers must make sure their supply chain and logistics are ready to handle the increased workload. By double checking that all products are being manufactured efficiently, optimizing stock levels across stores, fine tuning the website and IT systems for optimal performance and communicating effectively with logistics partners, retailers will be able to leverage all revenue generating opportunities and cater to all customer demands in a manner that is sure to drive long term success.
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