What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is an event that originated in the US and takes place every year on the first Friday after Thanksgiving. This is the date when, according to a tradition consolidated in the 1960s, American stores offer special discounts to encourage shopping and kickstart Christmas purchases. The following Monday is known as Cyber Monday and involves consumer electronics products. Cyber Monday 2017 was the most profitable shopping day ever in the US. Online transactions generated over $6.5 billion, an increase of 16.8% over the previous year.
Along with other traditions, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have taken place in Italy for some years.
Logistics shares significant responsibility for the success of these two major occasions of unbridled shopping (with on average 30% more purchases in various sectors). In fact, most purchases are now made with a simple click, without the need to leave home to visit the various stores. Online purchases for Black Friday exceeded €1 billion, a 35% increase on 2017. Once the order has been sent, the customer – happy to have obtained a product at a greatly discounted price – expects to receive it quickly.
Alfred Ndou, Warehouse Manager at Inovys Logistic, talks about how he handled the planning together with his team from the very beginning to ensure a successful Black Friday.
Ndou: ‘The whole logistics chain must function perfectly, starting with the picking. Mistakes or delays can turn the opportunity of Black Friday into a black moment.’
How is Black Friday planned in terms of logistics?
Before Black Friday
Black Friday required long preparation, which began about 6 months before the day itself. The starting point was recruiting additional personnel to handle the significant increase in orders.
During the selection phase, preference was given to personnel with experience in the logistics sector to enable faster learning, given the tight deadlines involved. Later on, they underwent both theoretical training (delivery and explanation of the procedures) and practical training (shadowing an expert operator) so as to always guarantee the quality of the service.
Immediately after this, the physical spaces for e-commerce were reorganized in view of the physical space limits and the impossibility of adding new workstations for such a short period, while processes were optimized to increase productivity.
During the Black Friday preparation phase, stress tests were carried out which consisted in accumulating orders made during the weekend to simulate the possible situation encountered. These tests provided an understanding of where to take action to improve the packing and picking processes.
During Black Friday
Periodic meetings were held at the beginning of each shift to keep the feeling of unity alive and the following were shared with the whole team:
- Report on the work done and to be done;
- Continuous improvements based on experience from previous shifts;
- Thanks for the commitment shown;
Post-Black Friday considerations
Thanks to close collaboration and sharing objectives, the Black Friday planning paid off. This reinforced the importance of planning in logistics and successfully fulfilling all the orders that arrive around Black Friday.