As Black Friday draws closer, we’re here to help you beat the seasonal sales rush, as well as the anticipated crunch of global supply chain slowdowns.
In past years, brands may have held off on running campaigns until Black Friday itself, or even afterwards, in order to attract in-person crowds hunting for end-of-season deals.
But, from our vantage point in the e-comm alcohol space, the best way for direct-to-consumer brands to keep customers happy is to pull their sales up and ahead of the time curve.
Below, we’ll run through the key action items you should be tracking across ops, comms, and customer support to ensure your brand’s Black Friday campaigns are fully optimized.
Step One: Supply Chain Operations
Intense preparation mode for Black Friday should be focused on the week or so leading up to the actual date, plus the few days afterward.
You’ll want to start by making strides in operations, which will be important in avoiding potential pipeline blockages during the busiest inventory period of the year for most e-comm stores.
Running Your Numbers
The question we’ve received most from the brands we work with is what they should expect of variable consumer demand and heightened activity throughout the coming holiday season.
In response, we recommend gauging prospective sales by tracking last year’s data and isolating the growth factor for e-comm sales through November and December, as compared to your brand’s standard sales volume in the months prior or another month with average performance.
Even if you weren’t selling e-comm at the time or are missing hard data, you can look at overall growth in the last two months of 2020. A rough estimate can still provide a clearer picture of what to expect and how to prime stores to stock, level-set, and forecast demand accurately.
It’s also worth noting that the more accurate your numbers, the less offloading of leftover product you’ll have to do after December — and the more you’ll be able to avoid too much product floating around that could contribute to even more slowdown and logistical overload.
On a final note, it’s critical that your team ensures these projections are clearly communicated to retailers who are also trying to avoid the holiday crunch. Make sure that you’re keeping them up to speed as to which product SKUs you expect to perform well during the holiday season.
Staging Your Products
After priming your team and retail partners on seasonal projections, you’ll want to stage your products by working with distributors to get your goods to stores as quickly as possible.
For instance, you might want to reach out to key retail partners — those who’ll be covering your brand’s online orders — to coordinate carrying extra stock in certain locations and circumvent any potential slowdowns in the supply chain.
Communicating with distributors early on will help them know where to expect hubs of interest, but it’ll also result in your products entering the market sooner than most competitors.
If you haven’t touched base with your retailers and distributors by mid November, you should actively shift your schedule up by a few weeks and start reaching out immediately.
Step Two: Clear Communication
Returning to our last piece, in order to nail communications with customers, you’ll want to have a codified calendar and clear plan of attack in place for the leadup to Black Friday.
Rather than waiting for the clock to hit 5 AM on Black Friday, most of today’s online shoppers have come to expect a wave of promotions throughout the week prior, during which they’ll get an early start or begin formulating their shopping lists.
With a pricier product like alcohol, customers will often want a window of time with an available promo to consider the purchase and ensure they got the best possible deal for a high-end gift.
Keeping this in mind, holiday campaigns and promotional emails should ideally be going out the weekend, Monday, or Tuesday prior to Black Friday — at the absolute latest. To make sure that promotions are properly extended to customers, your internal comms should be transparent and clearly communicated to each member of your brand’s supply chain.
After all, the more you can loop in your sales reps, distributors, and digital e-comm partners, the more prepared everyone will be to engage, route, and properly manage your orders.
In theory, direct-to-consumer sales are meant to be seamless. However, zero online purchasing occurs effortlessly from Point A to Point B. Each influx of orders, especially in a time as busy as Black Friday, generates uncertainty and the potential for supply chain challenges up the line.
As a result, it’s important to set expectations around timing, discounts, shipping details, and more to your customers well before promotions go out. In turn, you’ll have a better chance at eliminating the potential for surprise difficulties across any stage of the pipeline.
Step Three: Customer Support
Brands should expect Black Friday to be a full 24-hour sales window — or longer, depending on your company’s unique promotions — as opposed to a 9-5 event with a simple storefront.
With this in mind, expect a surge of customer questions via calls, emails, and support requests.
You’ll want to carve out time in your calendar to be available for customer support needs, i.e. a couple hours at the start and end of the day, from Black Friday into the following week.
Accelpay can also help address customer challenges that crop up throughout and even after the purchasing event, though it’s critical that your team is still alert and receptive to consumers.
If folks are left waiting too long for an answer, they can get discouraged and abandon their cart for the next brand’s appealing discount. The faster you can touch base with shoppers, the better.
Big-Picture Holiday Planning
To take full advantage of Black Friday campaigns, it all comes down to big-picture planning.
Whether it’s communicating with members of your supply chain or conditioning your customers throughout the weeklong buildup with timely promotions, each step makes a real difference.
In doing so, you’ll be primed and ready for anything, despite the holiday and supply chain crunch.
To get even more tactical Black Friday tips from our team directly, check out Accelpay here.