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The clock is ticking.

a pie chart with a section extend away and highlighted to represent the golden quarter of the year for revenue

Black Friday to Cyber Monday, inarguably the biggest retail shopping event of the year, is just a few months away.

Before we know it, summer will come to an end and the kids will be back at school. If Black Friday 2020 is anything to go by, retailers – both large and small – will be offering amazing deals prematurely, long before Friday 26 November.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have changed the way consumers shopped, but it certainly didn’t slow them down. According to data from Adobe Analytics, online spend during Black Friday 2020 surged nearly 22%, hitting a new record. And, over the three peak selling weeks leading up to the shopping event, sales grew 5% over 2019’s performance.

So what can we expect to see in the world of eCommerce as Black Friday 2021 approaches? Well, UPS CEO Carol Tomé says delivery demand is expected to exceed capacity by 5 million pieces a day. FIVE MILLION.

Challenges around a capacity crunch, fuelled in part by the online shopping frenzy, as well as the seamlessness of the order-to-delivery process, mean retailers who aren’t already gearing up for peak will have a bumpy peak season ahead.

With that, here are some tips from the industry profs.

black friday sprint

Choose a marathon over a sprint

Marathons and sprints. Both are challenging in their own right and will need some pretty intense training, but while a sprint focuses on short-term gain, a marathon focuses on the long run.

Retailers should look at Q4 as a marathon rather than a sprint, optimising their budgets to promote Black Friday/Cyber Monday content much earlier than usual, and for an extended period of time.

That being said, if you need a helping hand, particularly when it comes to inventory management and storing stock, it’s probably worth getting a sprint on, ahead of competitors.

A photograph of a girl in front of a video camera

Choose experience

No matter how amazing your product is, if your website’s a minefield of pop-ups, banners, BUY NOW, follow me, subscribe – and all of the other CTAs, your customers are going to be confused, overwhelmed, annoyed and consequently, will go elsewhere.

Going back to the marathon analogy, while increasing your peak online sales will be a priority, it’s also important to think about the long-term sales opportunities throughout the rest of the year into the next. Innovation isn’t just applied to the product itself, but to the entire customer experience. Retailers who offer education, social shopping, and events with influencers and celebrities are the ones embracing the online channel, successfully increasing their organic following and retaining customers beyond major shopping events.

Shelving with stocked products

Choose proactiveness 

Data will inform that proactiveness. If retailers are planning their Black Friday promotions much earlier this year, they’ll need to source more products earlier and increase the number of carriers they’re working with to avoid out-of-stocks over the holiday season.

There’s room to negotiate better carrier rates, despite immense pricing power in the current market, but if you’re working with a fulfilment partner, they’ll have preferential rates due to the volume of orders they process on a daily basis. They’ll also take away the pain of allocating the fastest and cheapest shipping service which is worth thinking about.

Take a look at your previous performance through Q4. Although 2020 may have put a spanner in the works, you’ll be able to identify trends across your inventory to make sure you’re stocked to meet demand. Having access to a piece of software that provides a high level of detail and visibility always helps. Plus, as buying trends shift, having the ability to amend orders and update out-of-stocks on the fly is critical for productivity too.

A photograph of a christmas tree

Choose Christmas 2021

Choose this peak to be your most successful yet, because the opportunity is definitely there. UK shoppers saved nearly £200bn in lockdown and are planning on making this Christmas one to remember.

Consumers will need less convincing to self-indulge too. After months of no eating out, gatherings, holidays, spa treatments, the list goes on, shoppers will be feeling they’re entitled to a splurge.

Retailers, go forth and treat them.

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