Sharon Reid

 

In just over 10 weeks Black Friday (27th November) that ‘charming’ series of sales promotions imported from the good ole US of A will descend upon us. Who remembers the chaos that ensued during last years’ sales extravaganza? News footage of marauding consumers fighting their way (and each other) through Asda, was enough to send a shiver down one’s spine. There were also website crashes and goods not being delivered on time. Will retailers take heed and not repeat some of last years’ shopping shambles? The optimist in me would like to think so, however new research from Royal Mail, reveals that UK SMEs are under-prepared for Black Friday which marks the start of Christmas shopping season in the UK.

Black Friday has proven to be an extremely lucrative day for retailers, according to research carried out by *IMRG, consumers spent £810 million during 2014. Research by the Royal Mail has found that 60 per cent of consumers are already preparing to shop online for this year’s event, meaning the UK’s 4.9 million SMEs could take advantage of this major shopping bonanza. However, new research has revealed that British businesses are not applying all the lessons learnt from last year’s event, and three quarters of small businesses will miss out because they are not planning on participating.

Further research by the Royal Mail reveals the biggest challenges faced by SMEs during Black Friday 2014 were:

  • Coping with increased website traffic (48 per cent)
  • Managing stock (44 per cent)
  • Delivering orders on time or quickly enough (33 per cent)
  • Distributing orders from their warehouse (31 per cent)bargain-455987_640

In addition:

  • Less than a third (30%) of small businesses struggled to cope with customer enquiries about their orders

While small business owners are:

  • Preparing for an influx of web visitors (with 39 per cent arranging additional IT capacity)
  • Improving the availability of products (with 55 per cent ordering more stock)
  • Nearly two thirds are not preparing for the distribution and delivery of customer orders

For businesses to fully take advantage Royal Mail is advising SME’s to work with their delivery provider in order to forecast volumes for both Black Friday and the Christmas shopping period. Roger Morris, Head of Royal Mail Parcels, advises the following:

“My advice to SMEs about Black Friday is really to start thinking about the planning today, and the planning in particular for the logistics and the delivery needs. You need to plan to have the item in stock of course, and your website needs to work; but you need to be able to get it delivered. It’s really about planning and trying to share the information with us so we can make sure we have the capacity in place to make sure that we can deliver your orders for your customers on time.”

Check out the infographic below for a visual overview of the Royal Mail’s findings:

 

 photo RMInfographic_zpsawo3erhv.jpg

 

*Interactive Media in Retail Group