British consumers spent well over £800m during last year’s ‘Black Friday’, causing major disruption to small businesses. Research from Royal Mail has found that nearly two-thirds of SMEs will once again be unprepared to cope with huge consumer demand.
Black Friday gained its infamy in the United States, with the shopping event occurring the day after thanksgiving. Think of it as the equivalent to the ‘Boxing Day sales’, but on a much larger/frightening scale. Last year, Black Friday brought in £810m to the UK economy.
Understocked and underprepared
In the UK, Black Friday, which is known as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, will take place nationwide on 27th November. But are SMEs prepared this year?
According to Royal Mail, small businesses are nearly as underprepared as they were last year. In 2014, small and microbusinesses failed to cope with increased website traffic (48 per cent); managing stock (44 per cent); delivering their orders on time or quickly enough (33 per cent) and distributing orders from their warehouse (31 per cent).
Roughly one-third of small business owners are fully prepared to cope with the surge in demand this year, with businesses arranging extra IT capacity (39 per cent); bringing in more staff to prepare orders (40 per cent are employing additional staff) and improving the availability of products (55 per cent ordering more stock).
A word of advice
This does however mean that nearly 70 per cent of small businesses aren’t planning to prepare for Black Friday, with just 38 per cent of SMEs extending their ‘delivery window’ to allow more time to get deliveries to consumers and just 36 per cent are working with their delivery provider to forecast volumes.
Royal Mail, a company which considers Black Friday as part of its Christmas delivery planning and has been preparing its logistics and staffing since early 2015, has some words of advice to underprepared small businesses.
‘‘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,’’ stated Roger Morris, head of Royal Mail Parcels.
‘‘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.’’