Black Friday: Preparing and Maintaining Inventory for the Rush

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For many retailers, Black Friday is a hectic mess of organizing, planning, and logistics. Whether a store’s Black Friday sales are successful is highly dependent on preparing prior to the rush — and each year there is more to accomplish before doors open.  In 2012, Black Friday shopping hit a record high with nearly $60 billion in spending. This shopping holiday has taken on a life of its own, and it’s up to the savvy retailer to capture as much of the market as possible.

Prepping the Store

A large amount of Black Friday preparation — last minute inventory modifications, setting up, coaching the sales team — must actually be completed on Thursday. These tasks include:

  • Ensuring staff are aware of deals and fast moving merchandise.
  • Scheduling the best staff to avoid backed up lines and customer service issues.
  • Training staff to handle potential emergencies: aggressive customers or injuries.
  • Moving store racks, shelving, end caps or other displays to facilitate easier shopping.
  • Checking and double-checking inventory to ensure deals and promotions are accounted for and all new items are included.

However, even with significant prep work, inventory may cause problems for the retailer.  A larger inventory volume will be received with many items classified as specialty and be discount priced or part of special promotions. The easiest way to manage this additional inventory is with a reliable scanning solution; allowing seasonal inventory items to be quickly and easily added and tracked.

  • Specialty Inventory

iStock_000035195014A significant amount of a retail store’s Black Friday inventory will not be ordinary items. Instead, many manufacturers create specific items for Black Friday sales, with most items geared for the holiday season. Retailers must estimate inventory needs when ordering and then accurately add the new items to their inventory management system. Inventory solutions that utilize barcodes and barcode scanners make this process easier and with less margin of error.

A Matter of Volume

Nearly a quarter of Black Friday shoppers camp out the night before; retailers face 23% of their consumers the second their doors open. For many stores, handling this volume can be intimidating. Employees need to be well-trained and the inventory system used must be streamlined; the moment an employee falls behind, it may be impossible to recover.

Floating employees should be available to help others who are struggling. Inventory will be constantly pulled and replaced on shelves, so it’s extremely important to have a fast, easy scanning-based inventory solution. Managerial staff should be available to resolve any significant customer issues that arise, freeing employees to continuously make sales. The goal of Black Friday is, of course, to bring in as much money in as little time as possible.

Recovering from Black Friday

Once Black Friday is over, a retailer will need to replenish the sold stock – not a trivial task. The bulk of money made on Black Friday is not made through the promotions or discounted items but through the peripheral items people pick up while they are shopping, which includes the retail location’s standard inventory items.

This, too, is where a well-designed inventory management solution is to a company’s benefit. A reliable and robust inventory solution will keep up with the Black Friday rush and immediately give a count of all items sold and all items needing replacement. Legacy solutions — older inventory systems – would, instead, need to be manually updated, a process that is time consuming, may require multiple inventory counts, and potentially full of error.

The success of a retailer’s Black Friday depends largely on the technology behind the day’s sales. Transactions begin immediately upon open and do not stop until the end of the day. Retailers who are conscious of their inventory management and performance need a solution that removes the burden of manual inventory management and guarantees accurate and timely information before, during, and after the event.

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Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo

Paul Trujillo is a Product Marketing Manager at Informatics specializing in Inventory Warehouse Management and Supply Chain product lines. His nearly 15 years of experience has put him at the forefront of industry technology and developing trends.