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A Black Friday disaster in fulfilment

December 17

A Black Friday disaster in fulfilment

As we enter the New Year, we thought we’d reflect on one of the most successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) periods we’ve had. Every year we support clients through BFCM, to make sure they avoid a Black Friday disaster.

That’s because a lot can go wrong when you see so much increased traffic. Your entire website could go down, or you could completely run out of stock.

But to avoid a Black Friday disaster, you need to pay close attention to all areas of your business. And some of the most common issues we see from our clients come from their warehouse and fulfilment operation.

Here’s some examples of Black Friday fulfilment disasters we saw this year, so you can be prepared for BFCM 2023.

Manual inputs and lack of automation means warehouse is behind the times

A Black Friday disaster we’ve seen crop up time and time again is businesses not preparing appropriately for the scale of orders they’re going to receive throughout BFCM.

Many ecommerce businesses use email correspondence to their warehouse to communicate orders and other vital information. This is done manually, and a team on the receiving end of that communication must then log orders and ensure they’re fulfilled.

That’s fine for smaller companies with a manageable amount of orders and traffic. But when you’re trying to grow, things can get messy. And Black Friday sees sales go up by around 81% compared to a normal day.

That means, if you’re still reliant on manual data inputs to and from your warehouse, you could quickly get overwhelmed. You’re also susceptible to human error and unexpected circumstances such as essential team members being ill or unavailable over that period.

One of our clients, Tentsile, had an extremely successful Black Friday in part thanks to their commitment to automation. Through the Patchworks platform, they were able to reduce email correspondence with their warehouse by 95% to ensure a scalable BFCM.

A lack of data scalability

One Black Friday disaster which can happen to any business, of any size, is the lack of scalable integrations.

We’ve already mentioned the importance of automating your correspondence between your platform and warehouse. But that’s just the beginning of establishing a seamless operation.

Even with automated data flowing between your disparate systems, things can go wrong. Think of a tunnel that sits between your store and your warehouse. Data needs to travel through that tunnel to reach its destination and inform the other side of what actions need to be taken.

But if that tunnel is cracked, and poorly built and maintained, you could end up with congestion and even lost data when you receive an influx of traffic.

This means your warehouse might not receive accurate information on the orders it needs to fulfil. That’s why companies should consider outsourcing the construction of that tunnel to experts. To an integration provider, who can ensure your BFCM runs smoothly and you don’t lose customers due to lost and delayed orders.

Overselling and underselling with multiple stores

A critical Black Friday disaster which we see rear its head every year is one without an easy fix. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a solution for it.

That’s overselling stock. When you run an ecommerce company throughout the year, it’s easy to get a quick grasp on the amount of inventory you need every month to ensure you’re always well stocked.

But during peak trading periods, like BFCM, your traffic and sales can explode beyond what you expected. This can result in popular products being oversold, losing you revenue and possibly even customers.

The opposite problem is true, too. You can misjudge the popularity of specific products and end up with tons of unused and unwanted stock.

For companies who run multiple stores, this can be a huge problem. Operating multiple websites can be expensive, and it’s important to achieve a return on investment through diligent allocation of stock.

However, companies will often take an approach to stock whereby they pre-allocate inventory to specific stores. This makes it difficult to move products where they’re needed most. For example, you could have a popular product in one store which oversells - but it’s unpopular in other markets. Ideally, businesses should be able to transfer stock from the unpopular store to the popular one and maximise profits, but many can’t do that.

With a stock control solution which unifies your stock pool, however, you can ensure all of your stores draw from one source and take exactly what they need.

Running out of space in a warehouse

Finally, a Black Friday disaster which is less common but still disastrous to an ecommerce business, is the possibility of running out of space to store products.

This often happens due to a lack of communication between your systems and poor planning. For example, perhaps you’ve over-ordered products expecting them to fly off the shelves, but come BFCM, they’re not as popular as you thought they would be.

Or maybe there’s simply poor communication between systems and your manufacturer thinks you need more stock than you actually do. This can happen if they’re taking data from a source which isn’t interconnected throughout your entire organisation.

A solution for this would be to ensure all of your systems are seamlessly integrated. This ensures that data from all of your departments is stored in a centralised location, and all teams can access and review it. Otherwise your warehouse might have demands and limits which your ecommerce platform is completely unaware of.

What can you do?

One of the best ways to avoid all of these issues is with the Patchworks integration platform. With our no-code/low-code capabilities and self-serve dashboard, businesses can take control of their own integrations and create an automated, interconnected ecosystem which is transparent.

You’ll also want a powerful fulfilment or logistics partner, such as SEKO.

SEKO are experts in transportation, logistics, forwarding, and warehousing. With an integrated connection with SEKO, ecommerce businesses can empower themselves to scale throughout busy periods like BFCM.

Get in touch with us today for more information and to book a free consultation and demo.

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