NB1 - Main EntranceBlack Friday is one of the biggest dates in the retail calendar. Last year it was estimated that £810 million was spent on the last Friday of November with predicted sales reaching £1 billion this year. While the potential rewards for retailers are great, the day also comes with a unique set of delivery challenges. In this article Paul Galpin highlights the delivery factors retailers must consider in order to avoid a boom and bust Black Friday. 

Set realistic delivery expectations:  

In 2014 consumer demands were unprecedented but now retailers know what to expect and can prepare for it. Nearly two thirds of consumers cite poor delivery standards as the worst thing that can go wrong with online shopping; our research shows that 23.5 per cent of respondents said that they used social media to complain about retailer services.
It is key that retailers manage their client expectations from the outset in terms of setting the delivery aims. It is far better to extend the delivery commitment in the period immediately after Black Friday by 24-48 hours for Standard Deliveries than over promise and under deliver.

Consumer convenience:

Consumers have more ways to receive their goods than ever before. For example, Network Rail recently announced the nationwide roll-out of store pick-up points within stations nationwide. Previously, offering a sole, standard delivery service may have been sufficient but now other options such as trackable and express deliveries are essential to appeal to a wider audience.

Recognise returns

A good returns system is something that many companies can forget to implement or implement poorly. If customers find it difficult to return goods, it’s likely that they may look to a competitor next time. Research by Harris Interactive shows that 85% of customers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle and, conversely, 95% will return to the same catalogue or internet retailer if the process is convenient.

Identify new buying trends:

Social media sites Twitter and Pinterest are introducing new ways to discover and buy products online, with Pinterest starting to roll out a buy button on pins.  These advancements give retailers even greater visibility leading to higher customer engagement therefore driving sales. Increased sales mean more deliveries, which can only be supported by strengthening fulfilment and distribution solutions. By partnering with a third party expert, retailers are better placed to not only keep up to date with the latest innovations but also to judge which ones might fit their business and how the delivery and fulfilment processes will be affected.

Management of multiple purchases

Retailers must be prepared for the prospect of multiple purchases per customer on their sites. By leaving a specific time window after an order is placed and before the fulfilment process starts it gives customers the chance to go back and purchase other items during the day .These can conveniently  be incorporated into one package as well as reducing shipping costs.

When it comes to mailing and delivery services, seasonal peaks place huge demands on retailers and these must be anticipated. Customers don’t like delayed or unsuccessful deliveries, and  the competitive ecommerce market means customers can easily defect if they are unimpressed with the service they receive. By engaging with a third-party expert with the necessary knowledge contacts and expertise, retailers can truly capitalise on the financial rewards available on Black Friday 2015.

[Source: Paul Galpin is Managing Director of P2P Mailing]