The biggest retail day of the year is less than a week away. However, that day is now at the end of November rather than a few days before Christmas.
In just a few short years, Black Friday has revolutionised British retail and has created a new peak trading period.
Internet trade body IMRG predicts that £7bn is going to be spent across the Black Friday weekend this year, with £1.7m spent online every minute on the day itself.
However, that short, sharp surge has placed enormous strain on the delivery network.
When Black Friday first took off in the UK in 2014, the supply chain crumbled under the pressure.
Argos, Asos, Debenhams, Ao.com, Currys PC World, Very and Littlewoods – retailers that are known for their exemplary fulfilment – were among those that had problems meeting orders. Some M&S customers faced a 10-day wait for goods.
Needless to say the Black Friday experience was not a positive one for many customers.
But is retail’s supply chain now prepared for the Black Friday phenomenon?
The industry seems to have learned valuable lessons from the delivery chaos of previous years.
Retailers now have multi-carrier contracts to get through the explosion of demand Black Friday creates, forecasting is far more sophisticated and retailers are doing a much better job at managing customers’ delivery expectations.
“Retail’s delivery network might have brought in enough staff and vehicles, but Black Friday is sure to serve up many unexpected challenges”
And staffing and transport levels have been flexed. According to courier insurer Staveley Head, more than 82,000 lorries will be on the road to deliver Black Friday, with Royal Mail bringing in an additional 6.800 vans just for the peak period.
Meanwhile, 49,000 extra staff have been hired to make sure Black Friday runs smoothly – 20,000 of these by Amazon.
The online giant is expected to sell 86 items every single second in the UK on Black Friday and a delivery lorry will leave its warehouses every 1 minute 33 seconds.
Retail’s delivery network might have brought in enough staff and vehicles, but Black Friday is sure to serve up many unexpected challenges.
The week ahead will be the supply chain industry’s biggest test – hold on for the ride!