COMMENT: Strong teamwork is crucial for Black Friday

Antony Eden, head of ecommerce at online retailer Studio, pens his thoughts on why the peak trading period requires strong multifunctional collaboration to be a success.

COMMENT: Black Friday – Here’s to a collaborative Christmas
Black Friday and the weeks surrounding it require a full team effort in order to be successful, writes Studio head of ecommerce Antony Eden.

There’s no denying that Black Friday is now a well-established event in the UK, signifying the countdown to Christmas – at least for those who have been hiding away from the various window displays and emotional adverts.

Love it or hate it, Black Friday is now one of the biggest imports to arrive in the retail sector and has transformed the way many of us approach the “golden quarter”.

In fact, the Black Friday–Cyber Monday weekend can, for some, really impact financial performance over the festive season.

While in its infancy in the UK, Black Friday was pretty much just that, a one-day event with heavily discounted offers. More recently it is being used as theme or hook for marketing events lasting up to a month, which are really challenging how we as retailers can offer that value to customers.

READ MORE: COMMENT: Black Friday shouldn’t be a big deal for small retailers

Consumers are increasingly savvy about what they want to buy and the value they perceive for it, so as a retailer, we need to maximise this. Many are searching sites in the run-up to Black Friday to compare prices and plan their shopping lists, waiting to simply make a purchase on the day. Others use it as a chance to test out new brands and discount prices.

As the event becomes more complex, so does the approach. No longer is it just a case of shifting leftover stock at bargain basement prices, but a planned and considered exercise.
Now more than ever, Black Friday and the weeks surrounding it require a full team effort in order to be successful. Every department in the business needs to be fully on board, briefed and work closely together from earlier in the year to ensure it is triumph.

Why? Because a successful Friday isn’t just about the purchase price for a customer. It’s the entire experience. It can be a time when new customers are introduced to your brand, so it’s important to offer them the best experience to not only drive conversions on that day, but return visits in the future.

From presenting the right ranges of products, to an easy purchase process buying process, every step matters.

Using trends and analysis from previous years, it’s possible to understand where pressure points may occur. As a collective team you can then plan and ideally mitigate them together.

At Studio, we’ve established multifunctional squads, who work closely together to make sure the end-to-end customer journey is smooth. This has proven to be a successful model which continues to be rolled out each year.

READ MORE: What Black Friday can learn from Singles Day

Buyers will be seeking the best products from suppliers, while warehousing ensures availability and manpower. Marketing may be looking to push particular offers and categories. Merchandising and ecommerce will need to understand which products to present to which customers and when.

As an online retailer, it’s also vital to have a peak performance plan in place with the correct infrastructure and bandwidth to support increased visits. Are there any tests running online that can be stalled to allow the site to load as quickly as possible? Is your app prepared for increased access?

Then there’s customer service – be that online or through a contact centre. Do you have the right team in place to deal with any problems or queries quickly and effectively? Have they been briefed on which products might sell out more quickly, or will attract more queries? Does ecommerce know which products to present as an alternative to sold-out product? With an increase in people using Twitter and the like to contact retailers directly, does your social media team have responses prepared for any problems?

All of these tasks need to be planned and prepared, but also shared amongst the different functions, ensuring a holistic view of the event is provided.

Without a constant flow of communication and strong collaboration, you can fail to meet customer and financial expectation.

As the saying goes. those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail, and the forthcoming cyber weekend is a prime example of that. But it really doesn’t need to be that way.

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