Ashley Miller looks at how the fashion industry can make the most of the November shopping bonanza
What started as day of post-Thanksgiving sales in the US, has evolved into a multi-billion shopping extravaganza right across the globe, taking in not only Black Friday, but now Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday too. With £1.4 billion spent on online sales in the UK on Black Friday alone in 2017 (up 11.7% on 2016) and with the total UK spend predicted to be in the region of a staggering £4.75 billion this year, there’s no denying that the Black Friday weekend is a major event in the shopping calendar, something that’s not lost on retailers, with an amazing 91% of UK retailers taking part 12 months ago.
For the fashion sector, the profits to be made from the Black Friday long weekend are evident for all to see, but it’s not without its challenges, with only the most organised and forward-thinking of fashion businesses able to take full advantage of the money to be made over these four shopping days. And, with recent YouGov research suggesting a slowdown in customer engagement with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with awareness of Black Friday seeing a significant year-on-year drop since 2014, not to mention a decline in footfall against a rise in online spending, fashion companies, particularly those who make their money on the high street, will have to work harder than ever to secure their share of the Black Friday rewards.
To make it work in their favour, fashion businesses need to predict and even influence customer spending choices, keeping one step ahead wherever possible and making sure they meet demand quickly and efficiently. To do this, you need total visibility over the business, with the added benefit of business insight leading to timely, informed decision-making to ensure the business is in the best place possible to take full advantage of all that the Black Friday weekend has to offer.
With a single, centralised business management system in place, fashion businesses can pull together information from right across the business and the wider supply chain, providing an up-to-date 360° view of the organisation. There’s no need to manually amalgamate information from different departments, so you can immediately see the state of play at any given time. Add to this comprehensive Business Intelligence (BI) functionality and what you get is new depths of business insight, enabling the necessary levels of foresight and planning to make the most of profitable opportunities, such as Black Friday, as and when they present themselves.
Information is key
Take demand planning, for example, one of the key processes to get right for Black Friday success. In-built analytics capabilities enable fashion businesses to dramatically increase the accuracy of their demand planning, combining historical Black Friday sales information, pricing data and forecasts to better anticipate customer demand and ensure they’ve got the right stock in place to fulfil this demand. The same information can also be used to determine not only what you’re selling, but when you should start your special offers and at what price. As well, dynamic inventory data can be relayed to customers, informing them that certain items are in short supply, encouraging even more sales and accelerating demand further still. Without the right system in place that embraces all business processes and procedures, such transparency and immediacy of information simply wouldn’t be possible.
The same can be said for managing inventory levels. The ability to control inventory across multiple locations means that stock-outs can be avoided, with the right products available to meet customer demand right across the business. And, due to the increased accuracy of forecasting and demand planning, stock purchasing and replenishment can be automated, in line with forecasts and sales, enabling inventory levels to be reduced dramatically, resulting in both cost and efficiency savings for an even bigger share of the Black Friday profits.
Black Friday and beyond
The fashion businesses who reap the most from the long Black Friday weekend are those who have joined-up, efficient systems in place, systems which facilitate new levels of business agility and flexibility, as well as furnishing the business with the right information at the right time. By keeping one step ahead of not only customers but the competition as well, using information from across the business to make intelligent decisions which chime with customer demand and also the strategic direction of the business as a whole, fashion businesses can ensure they make the most of the biggest shopping weekend of the year. And, with these systems in place throughout the year, reducing complexity, increasing automation and improving efficiencies, fashion businesses lay solid foundations for success in an increasingly turbulent marketplace, ready to do it all over again on Black Friday 2019!