Black Friday: how are retailers alleviating supply chain stress?

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First the Christmas ads, now the Black Friday deals. One thing is for sure, Christmas has come early this year, with retailers including Amazon, Currys and Very wasting no time to introduce discounts well ahead of the big retail weekend.

It’s catering to consumers’ shopping excitement and more intentional approach to purchasing this year, but it’s also a sign of the times. Spreading discounts in this way will hopefully alleviate some of the supply chain stress around Black Friday weekend, meaning consumers will get to “save big” without experiencing as many big delays caused by the variety of ongoing supply chain disruptions.

In addition to an earlier promotion scheme, smart retailers will gauge shoppers’ patience levels by asking when they need an item by (offering dates well past the holiday window) and will give the same seasonal discounts but with guaranteed delivery on a reasonable yet delayed timeline. The retailers that have been ahead of the distribution game will leverage this time to pilot delivery and shipping business acquisitions they’ve made to strategically overcome supply chain issues. 

Mobile has been a leading holiday headline year over year with continued growth, and I expect this to remain a theme as we approach Black Friday – but via much more app usage. Omnichannel paths to purchase lend themselves to smartphone-centric browsing and buying, and consumers have expressed more interest in retailer and brand apps as of late. Top retailers have begun incentivising more app utilization, so we should see some holiday-specific app-based promotions, products, and services.

I wouldn’t rule brick and mortar out completely, though. Since last year’s holiday season was in the middle of lockdown, nostalgia for proper holiday shopping combined with the instant gratification provided by stores will be appealing. Retailers set up for omnichannel success will leverage their sites and apps to give real-time inventory updates so that in-person shoppers avoid disappointment.