Black Friday – Sink or Swim Moment For Warehouses?


The annual rush to grab a bargain is set to break all records as Black Friday fever lets rip on 27th November. The predictions follow a continuous upward trend for ecommerce sales which continue to soar globally.

In the UK, retailers recorded their strongest year-on-year ecommerce growth since June, with a second national lockdown in November causing online sales to jump 61% in the first week of the month, according to the latest data from the IMRG Capgemini online retail sales index.

The demand on fulfilment is going to be unprecedented with many retailers bringing their Black Friday deals forward in order to try and relieve the pressure.  However, the spotlight is well and truly on warehouses to meet consumer expectations and get packages out on time and accurately.

And with the added pressure of social distancing within warehouse operations too, easily accessible information data is paramount to improving efficiencies warehouse-wide, as well as having the ability to self-configure the software programme, creating a more nimble and cost-effective solution.

The long Black Friday into Cyber Monday weekend, hotly followed by Christmas, means the pressure is really on for warehouse operations who not only have to juggle higher levels of activity but find a way of maintaining a safe and healthy working environment for employees. It will be those forward thinking fulfilment centres that have invested in their technology infrastructure, in particular their warehouse management system (WMS), who will thrive under the pressure and not find themselves in a black hole come Black Friday weekend.

This is where a best of breed cloud-based WMS, such as SnapFulfil, comes into its own.  Such technology allows warehouse operators to modify their processes seamlessly and quickly meet the challenges without incurring additional costs.  A technologically advanced WMS also allows operators to simply track progress and reconfigure changes to achieve the best results and most efficient fulfilment operations.

Apart from facilitating much more educated decisions, it also eliminates onerous and time-intensive paper-based processes in the warehouse, giving employees the time and flexibility to streamline procedures.

But for every bargain to be bagged, there are also those that want to be returned. What is a cumbersome, manually controlled process can be both simple and speedy using functionally rich technology.  Automating the operation with a cloud-based WMS, featuring return management functionality, allows tracking and material flow processes, which can optimise the returns process from the dock to final dispositioning. Such software can also drive the transition from manual to digital returns tracking, enabling a more accurate and automated way of tracing returned products through the warehouse.

Capturing the maximum value from goods sold around Black Friday will be down to those who have already implemented a cost-effective and efficient full service WMS operation.  But the appetite for ecommerce is predicted to stay, with the pandemic changing the way we shop forever, so it’s never too late to take action.  The technology is readily available, and the net result should be a significant increase in customer satisfaction leading to a much healthier bottom line.

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