Salmon offers retailers five top tips for success on Black Friday, tipped to be the UK’s first £1bn online shopping day

Burson: preparation is vital

Burson: preparation is vital

With just less than one month to go until what global ecommerce consultancy Salmon predicts will be the UK’s first £1bn online shopping day, retailers should be in the final stages of preparations for Black Friday 2015.

To help in final preparation and ensure they capitalise on the sales potential of the days, Salmon’s  CTO Glen Burson and head of managed services John Beechen, ‎offer advice to businesses on what to achieve over the next four weeks in order to be truly ready.

Five critical objectives include:

  1. Stagger your marketing activities. Although a surge on Black Fridayis inevitable, feeding customer deals gradually in the weeks leading up to and beyond the big day will keep consumers shopping throughout the peak and on Cyber Monday, whilst reducing strain on infrastructure and fulfilment teams.
  1. Brief the business. Now is the time to ensure every department is au fait with the plan for peak trading on 27 November– not just in silo but across the entire business. Being aligned will ensure all online trading and operations teams can anticipate surges and be ready.
  1. Run an incident test. Ideally, the majority – if not all – performance checks will have already been completed across all online platforms. Simulating a major incident to understand how watertight your contingency plan is will enable retailers to understand how they will cope with a “dam burst” scenario if faced with an unexpected influx of traffic on the day.
  1. Have a back-up plan. If you are completely unprepared it’s not too late to put some basic functionality in place. For example, adding a queuing system whereby customers are placed in a waiting line to access the website will help to control the surge and reduce the chances of the site crashing. This is also a good contingency plan for retailers on the day, should they suffer unexpected problems, implementing a queuing system can relieve strain on back end operations whilst the problem is fixed.
  1. Ensure your staffing plans are set. Your staffing plans and shifts should be set, with everyone involved in peak operations (including your vendors) aware of their role and responsibility during the period.  Shifts should be in place for both Black Fridayand the weekend, and contact details published.

Burson said: “Retailers should be putting the final touches to their peak operations strategy. Black Friday is an annual event – everyone knows it’s coming but the scale of consumer demand at any given minute can be unpredictable and this causes issues such as websites crashing, orders not processing or delivery delays. But the retailers who are as prepared as possible, from front-end to back-end, will be the ones who triumph.”

Salmon has created ‘The Black Friday and Peak Trading Ecommerce Operations Playbook’, a guide based on Salmon’s experience in supporting the peak operations of several leading UK retailers. Salmon will also be continuing the ‘Peak operations service’ this year, which was successfully run for retailers in 2014 which included performance testing, readiness planning and a 24 hour operations centre to monitor and detect site issues before they impact the customer: