Black FridayBlack Friday is one of the biggest dates in the retail calendar and year on year the stakes are being raised.  In 2015 it was estimated that £1.1 billion was spent on the last Friday of November, up 35 per cent on 2014, and forecasters predict that sales this year could reach £5billion in the UK alone[1].

While the potential rewards for retailers are great, the day also comes with a unique set of delivery challenges. Several major retailers have been hit with delivery problems in the past which have had far reaching repercussions for the overall customer experience.

In this article, Paul Galpin – Managing Director, P2P Mailing, discusses the factors that retailers must consider in order to avoid a delivery blackout this Black Friday.

Prepare for a significant increase in activity:

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, so the old adage goes, and the delivery mishaps experienced by many retailers during Black Friday 2014 suggest that this particular piece of wisdom rings true.

By neither anticipating nor adequately preparing for the day’s significant increase in sales and resulting delivery needs, many retailers were caught out, leaving customers to experience long delays in receiving their purchases.  Happily, the picture had improved in 2015 but with sales expected to reach £5 billion this year, there is certainly no room for complacency.   Looking at the lessons over the past two years, retailers need to have the capacity to scale up operations to meet potential increase in demand.

It’s also important to manage customer expectations when it comes to delivery times. No matter how carefully planned, potential increase in sales will undoubtedly present logistical challenges for retailers and put significant pressure on existing infrastructure.  It may be wise to think about temporarily extending delivery commitments so your customers are clear from the outset about when to expect their purchases and won’t be left disappointed

Customer convenience is key:

From in store collection to parcel lockers, there are more ways for customers to receive their online orders than ever before.   When it comes to receiving goods bought online, customers are demanding a convenient service that fits in with their busy lifestyles and research shows that as many as 50% of people have abandoned online purchases due to unsatisfactory delivery options.[2]

It’s clear that offering a sole, standard delivery service is simply no longer enough to guarantee customer loyalty so it is vital that retailers offer a range of options, including trackable and express deliveries.  With trackable delivery, each stage in the delivery process is recorded enabling the item to be traced at any point from despatch to door, allowing customers to feel in control of how and when they receive their goods- and avoid the dreaded Post Office queue!

Recognise returns:

A good returns system is something that many companies can forget to implement, but the post Black Friday and Cyber Monday period will result in an estimated £1 billion worth of purchases being returned[3] so it’s vital that preparing for this also plays a part in retailers’ plans.  The reason for this is simple- if customers find your returns process a hassle, there is a strong likelihood that they will opt for a competitor next time. Indeed, research by Harris Interactive shows that 85% of customers say they will stop using retailer if its returns process is inconvenient.

Managing peaks with preparation:  

Recent headlines have brought to the fore the issues both retailers and customers face when delivery doesn’t meet customer service expectations. There is no doubt that seasonal peaks like Black Friday put an inordinate amount of pressure on retailers when it comes to deliveries so it is essential to take steps to be prepared. Customers won’t hesitate to defect to other retailers if they’re not happy with the service they receive. By engaging with a third-party expert with the necessary knowledge contacts and expertise, retailers can keep customers happy and truly capitalise on the financial rewards available on Black Friday 2016.







By Alison