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Black Friday and inventory management – what you need to know

With the end of the year only a few months away, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching.  Are you ready?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up fast with just over two months left before the year’s biggest sales (and, of course, spending) hits businesses around the world. It’s a stressful time for businesses and store owners as they make sure their businesses are prepared for a potentially huge influx of traffic, sales and orders. You need to be ready for it ahead of time.

It can be overwhelming. If you’re only starting to plan for these hallowed sales days now, you might already be behind! But don’t worry, we’re here with a plan to get ahead now and put your plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday together and in action to ensure you’re not trying to put out fires during a holiday or even on the day of the sale.

You also need to consider that COVID has impacted consumer confidence and will continue to do so.

So, how do you plan for Black Friday?

Tips for a successful Black Friday

Take a deep dive into your inventory and sales reports

First things first: you need to review your sales data and inventory reports for past Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays. And because of the year that was 2020, you need to think about how you can adjust your inventory planning and strategy to account for potential outcomes as a result of the COVID pandemic. Are shoppers likely to shop online more this year as lockdowns start up again and/or continue? Or will they head out to stores as they usually do? Will they want more entertainment products? Or household goods? These are important questions you need to consider as you get ready for Black Friday.

This would be a good time to research which stock items were more successful than others and think about how you will adjust this year’s sales to meet customer needs. You’ll also find that a significant amount of a store’s Black Friday inventory will not be ordinary items. Many manufacturers create specific items for Black Friday sales, often geared for the holiday season. You need to estimate your inventory needs and accurately add the new items to your inventory management system.

And if you haven’t already, begin classifying your inventory into categories relevant to your business. While this might not help much for Black Friday 2020, the data provided will be invaluable as you begin prepping for Black Friday next year. Effective inventory management and tracking software could be the key to just how successful your Black Friday is from now on.

Talk to your suppliers and ensure they’re ready

Once you have gone over past sales and inventory history, put together a projected sales report for this year based on the research you have done and past data. The next step is crucial: based on your projected sales report, you need to know if your business can handle the increased demand for your products. Talk to your suppliers, marketing and sales divisions and make sure they’re ready for your projected sales for the holiday season. Be sure to communicate with your suppliers about your projected sales – remembering to take account of both past sales data and the effect of COVID – and align your sales around the predicted demand. It’s also crucial that your supply chain manager and/or inventory planner is aware of your marketing team’s plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions so that you can ensure your projected demand is in line with these too.

Failing to prep to match supply with demand puts you at risk of over- or understocking, undermining what could have been a successful Black Friday/Cyber Monday for you. But if you do run out of stock on an item unexpectedly, it’s not a bad idea to have a substitution plan ready so that you can quickly shift focus towards another item without losing any customers.

If you sell your products online and in store, you need to account for this when you calculate your overall stock needs. Here you’ll need to review your site traffic, conversion rates, and potential online competition. You’ll also need to ensure that your web server can handle the traffic and business, as well as put up some finishing touches on your holiday messaging and ensure that your checkout mechanism works as it should.

Finally, you can use your sales and inventory history aligned with your sales forecast, to set your top-line revenue target for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This will help you avoid setting unrealistic goals that can lead to careless overspending on advertisements or holding excess inventory.

Prepare your holiday sales ASAP

Now you can get started on an outline for the sales you plan to have on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Choose the products, schedule their start dates and work out their prices based on the deep dive you took into past year’s sales and inventory data. Once that’s done, you need to get the word out on your sales as soon as possible. This is especially important as more and more shoppers plan their Black Friday holiday shopping long in advance. If you’re not on their list, you won’t make an impact, and you’ll find your inventory isn’t moving in the direction you’d hoped and planned for. Working closely with your marketing team will help ensure that your stock is marketed appropriately and inline with the projected demand figures for 2020 that you have worked out. You will also be able to give potential shoppers a “sneak peek” of what to expect from your business and plan accordingly.

Once you’ve followed through on these three Black Friday inventory tips, you’ll be in a much better position to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020. Of course, no Black Friday is hassle-free, but at least your inventory management and planning will be up to scratch for the big day.

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