3 Things Retailers Should Do Now to Prepare for Black Friday
With the leaves turning colors and the arrival of cooler temperatures, retailers are turning their attention to ensuring their e-commerce systems are ready for holiday 2023. The complex, fluctuating economic conditions this year mean they’re facing a distinct set of challenges: ever-present inventory planning and delivery logistics challenges alongside a prediction of flat or modest growth for holiday spending this year.
Given the tight spending environment, there’s little room for error. While retailers may be tempering their expectations for this year’s revenue growth, there are three things retailers should be doing now to fine-tune their strategies and capitalize on the upcoming holiday shopping season.
First, and most importantly, retail IT teams should be testing their site to ensure that everything will run the same on Black Friday as it does on a Tuesday in April. It takes some effort and coordination in advance to ensure the website doesn’t crash under the peak load, but it’s more than worth it to avoid the dreaded angry phone call if the site fails. No one wants to deal with a Black Friday meltdown.
Retailers should test that the site’s integrations and APIs can handle consistent data transmission under peak loads. Custom APIs can sometimes be quite slow in pulling data, and then orders can get out of sync. Customers could end up canceling orders if products get stuck, so it’s best to test in the middle of the night to avoid a negative experience. While finding the right time is a headache, it’s better to do this testing now rather than suffer steep consequences later.
Second, inventory and order management needs to be on point. A small glitch turns into a major fail on Black Friday if you don’t have inventory control on lock beforehand. This can mean overselling a product and leaving customers empty handed, or overcorrecting and leaving too much product on the shelf destined for markdowns in January.
Lingering supply chain issues are still being felt in many industries so retailers are looking to make adjustments in advance of the holiday shopping season. They should evaluate the scale of the business during peak sales periods and invest in technology that will support it. This will put them in a better position to account for evolving market conditions.
Lastly, retailers should be experimenting with their marketing to understand what their customers will bite on before the holiday season gets into full swing. This year’s shaky economic environment means that consumers will be looking for bigger and better deals. Retailers have to use smart strategies and tactics to win this holiday season.
Marketers need to figure out what will drive the most conversions. For some, it might be free shipping. Others might find that buy-one-get-one offers convert more buyers. Are there certain days of the week that bring in revenue? If so, what are you doing to capitalize on that? Retailers need to run tests now to know what will make money in November and December. Running these experiments using analytics from a CRM platform means that marketers can track sales against these different tests.
As the 2023 holiday shopping season approaches, retailers will face challenges navigating this complex landscape. It’s not too late to prioritize these three areas to ensure that Black Friday doesn’t mean doom and gloom for sales. Testing site performance under peak loads, investing in inventory control and management, and using a data-driven approach to marketing strategies are key to successfully preparing for this holiday season — but the time to start is now.
Becky Parisotto is the vice president of commerce and retail platforms at Orium, a composable commerce consultancy and systems integrator.
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