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We’re in the middle of October already which means it’s just over a month before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness ensues. Last year nearly $60m were spent during the 4-day post-Thanksgiving weekend in the US and things can get pretty crazy here in the UK too. While this is awesome news for sales and profits, it does mean that those businesses looking to participate need to ensure that they’re physically, mentally and economically prepared for this weekend of consumer chaos. 

WTF is Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ are basically marketing terms that have been coined to mark the first Friday and Monday after the Thanksgiving celebrations in the US. The former came about in 2000 to signify the beginning of Christmas shopping and offers extended opening hours and mega discounts to customers looking to get more bang for their buck. The latter was created more recently in a response to the rising ecommerce market in order to encourage the same type of extreme sales boosting within the online shopping arena.

Just as it did with sweet potato fries, pulled pork and Oreo cookies, England spotted that its American counterpart had a darn good thing going on and has adopted the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend concept for itself. No matter what side of the pond you’re on, you can bet your bottom dollar that the last weekend in November is going to be a mad one. Customer chaos, in-store rampages, staff hysteria, stock shortages and crashing websites are all common symptoms of this modern phenomena so it’s important that your business, online or bricks-and-mortar, is armed and ready.

Yodel drafts in 7,000 extra staff to meet its seasonal demands

Last year during this annual shopping frenzy, leading delivery company, Yodel was ambushed with so many orders that it was forced to suspend collections from retailers for two whole days. Yodel’s seasonal success caused the kind of backlog of orders that the company is determined to be more prepared for this time round.

This year Yodel is predicting four times as many customers to take advantage of thrifty bargains on Black Friday (November 28th) alone, so is recruiting an additional 7,000 members of staff to help deal with the demand. These will consist of both full-time and part-time staff, 800 of which will be van drivers employed directly to work alongside a further 3,000 self-employed van drivers with their own vehicles. An additional 3,000 self-employed couriers will also be joining the company and using their own cars to deliver and collect small parcels to their respective neighbourhoods.

Yodel has also said that it expects many of these new positions to become permanent following the seasonal rush. They come as part of an ongoing plight to optimise its network to fulfil demand, which also includes the appointment of a new Peak Programme Director, a series of “super services centres” across the country and investment into its IT, mechanical handling, sorting equipment training and fleet.

Yodel executive chairman, Dick Stead, said: “Our recent research has shown that the 2015 Christmas period is set to break the mould once again, with nearly four times as many people planning to take advantage of the Black Friday online promotions.”

How to make sure you’re prepared too

Of course, as a business owner, you don’t have to participate in the Black Friday madness, nor is Cyber Monday compulsory but with customer spending during this particular weekend smashing records every year, why the heck not? Agreed, it is pretty intense and requires a great deal of preparation but with billions and billions being splashed out in the run up to Christmas, it could very well be worth your time and effort. Here are a few tips to take on board if you are considering jumping on the bandwagon this year.

Stay on top of your stock levels – You know what it’s like, as soon as a customer claps eyes on those little red discount stickers, they’re like someone possessed. They want one in every size, shape and colour on offer purely just to maximise the satisfying rush of saving a few quid, especially in the run up to Christmas. What you need to do is make sure you’ve got the goods to meet the demand because hell hath no fury like a sale shopper scorned. This might require ordering extra stock ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary disappointment for you or your customers.

Make sure your website is fully functioning – A sudden influx of traffic to your website can cause it to crash and buckle under the pressure of an atypical level of activity. There are a number of online services such as LoadImpact or Blitz that enable you to test the server load capacity of your online shop and ensure your website can handle the increased demand. Now is the time to complete any pending site maintenance to make sure everything is in full working order.

It is also worth ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly, responsive and can operate efficiently on a number of different devices, from smartphones to tablets. Research issued by IBM proved that mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic during this peak period last year, so it’s essential that your mcommerce customers can shop and purchase your products easily from their portable gadgets.

Start creating a buzz about your participation now – In the melee that surrounds this peak period, merely announcing a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale on the day will be pretty fruitless. With bargain-hungry customers looking for the best deals, the competition stakes are mercilessly high for businesses so the more hype, anticipation and exposure you create about your own participation the better.

Before you go!

Having said all this, you certainly don’t need to wait until the festive period to offer your customers an unmissable deal. In fact, we have recently teamed up with Yodel to offer its new owner drivers 20% discount on our usual fees. Starting up your own business can be a complicated process so we partnered with Yodel to take the hassle away from you. If you would like more information about this, simply click here.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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