Currently, we are facing serious supply chain problems, thus increasing the need for sophisticated supply chain strategies. While supply chains may vary depending on the industry, the basics remain the same. A great way to learn how to improve supply chain is by studying supply chain strategy.
Supply Chain Strategies to Prepare for Black Friday
Each year, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday put businesses to the test. In 2020, shoppers in the United States spent over $34.65-billion during the five day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. During that same period, online retail websites received over 1-trillion visitors to their eCommerce platforms. With so many US shoppers choosing to shop online due to the Coronavirus pandemic, an increased trust in online shopping security, and simplicity and convenience, small businesses across the United States need to ensure that they are properly prepared to handle a surge in demand. Additionally, now that Small Business Saturday has come forward as a critical shopping day for many consumers as well, both brick and mortar and eCommerce small businesses need to be on high alert as to not miss an opportunity to maximize their sales and profits during this period. So, what can you do as a small business owner to prepare for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday? Let us take a look at some ways a small business owner can prepare for the largest shopping week of the year.
- Ensure you have enough resources: Ensuring your business has enough resources to operate smoothly and to fill every order is something you should strive for all year, however, it is even more important during the holiday shopping season. The word resources does not only apply to cash on-hand. It means employees, inventory, cash, packing supplies, office supplies, warehouse space, and whatever else your business needs to function at its highest-level. If you do not have enough staff to run your business effectively, consider using a temp agency or hiring some seasonal workers to help you cover the holiday rush. If you need more inventory but you are lacking the cash to make a bulk order in the months leading up to the holiday season, consider taking out some inventory financing on existing stock to fund a large purchase. Also, make sure your place of business, whether it is a storefront or a warehouse, has all the tools necessary to be successful. Everything from printer paper to packing tape must be covered to ensure there are not any unexpected interruptions to the natural flow of your business. If you need additional storage space to take on the increased inventory, consider installing new shelving or rent some short term storage from another place of business nearby. The point is, it is the responsibility of any small business owner to make sure you have all the resources necessary to fill all orders safely, efficiently, and effectively.
- Focus on customer experience: Customer experience is an essential component of running a business. How would you feel if you received one of your packages in the mail for a holiday gift and it was damaged? Empathy is one of the most powerful tools a business owner can use to make sure they are being customer centered and giving the best customer experience possible. If you are a brick and mortar small business, do you have a website where customers can comfortably shop your store without having to come into your location? This is especially important these days because of the pandemic and simply to be able to compete with other companies who offer both a brick and mortar and online shopping experience. Whether you are sending orders from a warehouse or packing orders in front of customers at a retail store, make sure to take the extra time to wrap the order with care and to pack it to prevent damages from occurring when in transit. This is a simple yet effective way to ensure your customer has a great experience.
- Ensure you have enough inventory: During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, if an item is out of stock, you are going to disappoint many customers. Also, the holiday season is just beginning and the chances of receiving a back-order in time to ship out to a customer as a holiday gift shrinks exponentially each day. USPS, UPS, FedEX, and DHL are already stressed to the max during this time of year, so accounting for increased shipping times, you will want to make sure you have enough inventory to cover every order that comes in during the holiday shopping season. It may be wise to make sure to do a large bulk order in October so that you have enough inventory on hand to handle the upsurge. If you do not have the cash reserves to complete the bulk order, then consider inventory financing to pay for the order upfront and then pay back the loan monthly or once the inventory sells.
- Expand the sales window: More and more businesses are expanding their Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday sales for longer periods of time to help alleviate some of the stress the holiday shopping season can bring during those days. Consider starting a sale earlier in order to provide ample time to get the merchandise to the customer before the holiday shipping season is in full swing and when shipping times increase dramatically.
- Have logistics partners in place: However you plan to ship out your holiday shopping season order, whether it is UPS, FedEx, USPS, or some other carrier, it is important to set up a meeting with your logistics representative in the weeks leading up to the busy season. Maybe coordinate additional pick-up times, later pick-up times, essentially, if there is any way your logistics partners can be of additional assistance during this extremely busy time, they are there to help and you should not be afraid to ask for their support.
- Synchronization with your marketing team: Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as a small business owner you will want to make sure that your marketing team and your operations team are in sync. Are there projected sales figures that could be used to help the purchasing team stock up on the correct items? Is there going to be special promotions on select items that there should be ample stock on? Basically, what are the special offerings, when do they go into effect, and how should the operations team prepare for them?
Even if you prepare religiously, there are bound to be some shortcomings or mistakes that are made. Maybe a certain item was accidentally left off a purchasing PO and now you have to cancel orders for that item. Maybe you are short-staffed and you find it hard to keep up with the large influx of orders. It’s ok. Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be stressful for any business owner, but do your best to keep up with the increased demand, prepare where you can, and if all goes well, enjoy the welcomed surge in revenue and profit.
How Kickfurther can help
Keeping enough inventory on hand is an important part of your Holiday shopping season strategy. Part of timing the flow of inventory is understanding the supply chain. Some companies may struggle with cash flow, thus forcing them to order inventory late. While this may solve the cash flow problem, it may also cause lost sales or unhappy customers. This is where Kickfurther can step in. We connect brands to a community of eager buyers who help fund the inventory on consignment and give brands the flexibility to pay that back as they receive cash from their sales. This alleviates the cash-flow pinch that lenders can cause without customized repayment schedules, allowing your brand to scale quickly without impeding your ability to maintain inventory or financial flexibility.