3 October 2018

by Lisa Smith, Account Manager, AURES UK

It’s strange to think that just five short years ago, barely anyone in Europe had even heard of Black Friday. Now, not only has the traditional US Post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza taken over from the January sales as the biggest discounting event of the year, it has also established itself as the de facto start of the critical Christmas retail season.

In short, Black Friday matters. With £2.5bn spent in the UK on the day itself in 2017, and much more over what is becoming an increasingly prolonged sales period, no retailer can afford to miss out on the opportunity. Being prepared is the key, and part of that is making sure that your POS systems are fighting fit and ready for the rush.

With half of Britons estimated to shop on Black Friday, coping with the extra strain of increased traffic is a major part of the battle. But as well running systems checks to make sure everything is in good order, there are also strategic and operational decisions you can take which will help to ensure you provide the best possible shopping experience on the day.

Here are some of the key things to consider in the build up to this year’s event on November 23.

Minimising wait times

The one thing that puts people off in-store sales events is huge queues. And now, with the option of buying online, many people won’t even bother if they think there will be too much of a crowd.

Ahead of the Black Friday peak trading period, retailers want to make sure their POS systems are working as fast and as efficiently as possible so there are no glitches or technical issues holding people up come the big day. Now is a good time to speak to your EPOS partner about any performance niggles you’ve been experiencing and book in a service.

You might also want to think about increasing your POS capacity. Adding a suite of extra till terminals might not be practical, especially for smaller retailers, but there are other options. You might consider, for example, hiring a number of mPOS tablets to cover the peak period. When queues are building up, staff can walk around the shop floor using these to process transactions and provide service quickly and efficiently.

Thinking about fulfilment

One of the reasons we no longer see hordes of shoppers queuing around the corner at opening time as we did when Black Friday first arrived this side of the Atlantic is that online sales now dominate. But that doesn’t mean people still don’t enjoy heading out to the shops, perhaps to have a look at what’s on offer first hand before ordering later online.

That means the emphasis in stores is as much on service as it is on making sales, and your POS system needs to be set up accordingly. Many retailers, for example, now use stores as an additional resource for order fulfilment, through ‘click and collect’ services and so on. Many customers would much prefer to head into a store and pick up the fantastic bargain they have just bought online straight away than wait a couple of days for delivery.

To be able to provide such a service, there needs to be close integration between eCommerce, inventory management and EPOS. There needs to be a system in place to make sure the item ordered is in stock in a particular store before a customer is sent there to collect it.

Equally, during an event like Black Friday when footfall is expected to be high anyway, you need to consider how collections will impact on queue times. There is a case for setting up a dedicated POS just to deal with order collections so it doesn’t affect the wait times of customers looking to make purchases.