Experts are predicting record sales in excess of £4.5bn during this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions between the 24th and 27th November 2017. Reports in national newspapers are suggesting that 14.8 million Brits have been saving up for months in order to be in a position to take advantage of the bargains available.

For the vast majority of companies participating, most of their revenues will be generated online, with the warehouse effectively becoming the hub of the operation. In many warehouses, Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the end of months of planning to ensure that supply chain processes do not collapse under the strain of anticipated consumer demand. Evidently some very clear warehouse management lessons have been learned from previous experiences. This best practice advice can be applied equally well at any time, as more and more brands offer special promotions throughout the year to entice their customers.

Here are Indigo’s critical success factors for outstanding warehouse management, whatever the season.

1. Spread the operational burden 

Running special flash promotions and having a single Black Friday, Cyber Monday or just day-long seasonal sales can put a huge strain on operations. It is far better to extend special pricing events for a longer time period. This gives warehouse operations the chance to balance the extra load on resources and means that shoppers can potentially spend more.  If they find a good bargain one day, the chances are they will return. Another good strategy to ease operational pressure is to freeze express delivery services and offer different shipping terms during promotional periods for goods purchased on sale. Provided any new terms and conditions are clearly displayed, there’s no reason why customers would object to a temporary change in policy.

2. Support warehouse workers with effective technology

Now that our lives are so driven by technology, sometimes, the technology we use in our personal lives can be more advanced than the systems that support us at work. Maximising employee retention is an important aspect of good warehouse management and having modern, efficient and intuitive software that’s compatible with smart mobile devices to support warehouse processes, is a very good place to start. It’s relevant for any time of year, but especially so during peak periods. Intuitive software also means any temporary workers brought in to cope with Black Friday can be working to full capacity in the shortest time-frames, ensuring that your extended team can operate as efficiently as possible.

3. Achieve a balance between flexibility and need for process rigour

People who know me will have heard me use the phrase ‘flexibility masquerading as anarchy’ many times to describe encounters I have with warehouses that have poorly defined processes. Yes, warehouse operations need to be flexible enough to satisfy unexpected peaks, but the core processes should be well defined.

4. Real-time advantage of mobile working

Mobile devices are essential tools for efficient, real-time working to ensure that operatives have the information they need to identify and quickly resolve any emerging issues that could impact customer satisfaction levels. Using mobility, warehouse teams can collaborate efficiently and provide real-time status updates to management about order completion levels. In cases where voice enabled technology has also been introduced, productivity can be further improved through the ability to work hands-free.

Ultimately, no matter how busy your warehouse gets on Black Friday this year, it’s a drop in the ocean to what happens on China’s equivalent – Singles Day – on 11th November. Now the world’s biggest online shopping event, sales in 2016, generated a whopping £14.2bn in 24 hours. The UK still has a way to go to beat that record!

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