With Black Friday and Cyber Monday now two of the busiest shopping days of the year, retailers really do have no choice but to embrace this tremendous opportunity to make money. In 2017, 81% of US retailers took part in Black Friday, and a huge 91% of UK retailers did the same. For apparel retailers in particular, it’s vital that they are ready in plenty of time, staying one step ahead of both consumers and competitors if they’re to maximize sales over this incredibly busy period. That’s often easier said than done, as running a successful Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale can be stressful and very daunting, particularly if it’s your first time. With this in mind, we’ve put together a 20-point checklist to help you to get all your processes and procedures in order well ahead of sale go-live, making sure your business can hit the ground running come November.
- It’s never too soon to start planning. The sooner you start to plan, the longer you have to refine your plans and get them perfect for sales season.
- Use all available information to underpin your plans. All apparel retailers deal with an overwhelming amount of data on a daily basis and should use this information from across the business to decide not only which products you’ll be selling, but when your sale will start and at what prices. It’s only by pulling together information from all areas of the business that you’ll be able to make these decisions.
- Make contingency plans. Look at the worst case scenario – what if your website can’t handle an increase in traffic? What if your POS systems fail? Wherever possible, put contingency plans in place from the outset.
- The most successful apparel retailers optimize their demand planning. With the right systems in place, you can better anticipate customer demand, making sure you have the right garments in stock to meet customer need.
- Following on from point 4, something to consider is automating inventory purchasing and replenishment in line with demand planning and sales forecasts. Not only does this result in major efficiency savings, substantially reducing your inventory, but it helps to eradicate stock-outs, something you definitely don’t want to happen during your busiest time of year!
- Make sure your systems are all ready for a big upswing in web traffic or footfall, not to mention sales. That’s not just in-store or webstore systems, what about your back office processes too? It’s all too easy to focus on your front-end when it’s the back-end systems that underpin the most successful of sales.
- By planning in advance, you have the time to optimize your plans. One place to start is with all things mobile. IBM claims that mobile traffic surpassed desktop last year, so you need to make sure your mobile shopfronts are up to the task in hand. The same can be said of mobile access to back-office systems, for ultimate efficiency.
- You’ve also got time to thoroughly test your systems. Use information from your CRM systems to gauge customer feedback and make any changes necessary before sales go live.
- Use your business information to your advantage. As with planning and demand, by pulling together information from across all departments (finance, warehousing, CRM, sales) you’ll be better prepared for the busy period. It’s this access to business information that will give you greater control and insight into the business, both of which you need for a successful Black Friday long weekend.
- Link your back office systems. Again, for greater control, with the right systems in place such as an ERP solution, you can control inventory across multiple warehouses and stores, linking up to web stores, POS systems and barcode scanning solutions, for optimum efficiency and maximum sales.
- Again, use your business information to decide which product could be used as a lead sales item. This will help to lure customers into stores or onto your website. Using historical sales analysis, in combination with CRM information, what would be the best item that you can focus on with promotions as a springboard to further sales?
- Reward customer loyalty. The best business systems will give you a comprehensive picture of your existing customers’ shopping habits. Use this information to target these customers, with exclusive pre-sale access perhaps, or with specific ‘loyalty offers’ on particular items that you know they like to purchase.
- If customers think they might miss out, they’re more likely to buy. Make use of your inventory level data to let customers know if a particular dress or shirt is in short supply, or if a certain pair of shoes is on sale for a limited time only. Again, make full use of the information available to you as a business to build your sales potential.
- Be readily available – online, on the phone, or in store. It’s all too easy for customers to abandon potential sales if there’s no one there to answer a question or query.
- However, it’s no use being available to customers if you don’t have the right information to hand. Make sure staff are knowledgeable about inventory and inventory levels, making the most of your back-office systems to provide them with real-time information if possible in terms of when new deliveries can be expected or when in-store inventory will be replenished, for example.
- Hassle-free returns are a must. Not only should returns be easy for customers to carry-out in-store or online, but for speedy inventory turnaround, they should be fully integrated into the wider business, directly linked to finance, inventory and warehousing for ultimate efficiency.
- Analyze everything. With the right systems in place, you can analyze web traffic, footfall, sales, returns, peak shopping times, popular items, competitor activities and a great deal more, using this information to better inform future sales and help improve customer service in particular. Look at what worked and what didn’t (for you and your competitors), feeding all the information back into your business systems ready to start planning for 2019.
- Track your customers’ behavior, pre, during and post-sales. To keep them fully engaged and to turn seasonal shoppers into regular shoppers, you need to target them with regular, personalized information. The only way to do this is to use the information available to the business to underpin targeted marketing activities.
- Make the most of your business information. We’re all dealing with more and more information on a daily basis, but without putting it into context, it’s pretty much useless. When it comes to solutions designed specifically for the retail industry, extensive reporting and analysis capabilities come as standard, turning mountains of data into valuable, value-add business information.
- It’s not just about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. All the points in this checklist are best practice when it comes to sales at any time of the year. With the right processes, procedures and systems in place, apparel retailers will be best placed to optimize sales and maximize profits throughout the year, increasing efficiencies and making a real difference to the bottom line.
For more information on how Sapphire can help your retail business, visit our website, or contact us today.