black friday phoneBlack Friday 2018 is in the rear view mirror and whatever your results are they depended largely on the state of your supply chain. So now is the time to take a look at what happened while there still may be a few days to make adjustments before the final days of the retail shopping year.

The short rule

This is the biggest rule of limited time sales periods - if the product isn’t available, you lose the sale. This has become the defacto rule as switching from one retailer to another is as easy as touching a smartphone screen. When a potential customer walks into a retail store they are no longer limited to buying what’s on the shelves. They may have come with credit card in hand and ready to snatch up the item they read about in your Black Friday ad, but if it’s already gone they still have options. Certainly that big screen tv or special toy you advertised had slightly different features than the ones your competition has, but those small differences (more or fewer HDMI ports, extra batteries, etc.) won’t matter as shoppers look to cross items off their lists.

At the heart of this is the supply chain that responds to your orders and fills the shelves at exactly the right time. Of course accurate sales projections are at the heart of adequate stocking, savvy product planning can sometimes save the day. Differential distribution strategies that can route deliveries on short notice may not be able to refill shelves within an hour but having backup inventory in the wings and cyber connections that let shoppers click to purchase out of stock items with free guaranteed next day delivery to their homes might assuage their disappointment.

Knowing the future

This year’s sales results blew past those of previous years in nearly all respects and all sales channels. Adobe Analytics reported a 28% increase in online spending over 2017 with mobile devices accounting for 54.4% of traffic on Thanksgiving day alone. At the same time, sales transacted from desktop computers dropped to 36.5% from last year’s 44.3% share indicating shoppers’ transition to the mobile devices they carry with them. They are clearly comfortable using their smartphones to make purchases.

The next wave of holiday shopping needs to be met by retailers ready to deliver (literally) without shelf stock. Buyers have shown their willingness to wait 2 days for delivery of nearly every product they buy. What Black Friday adds to the mix is the frenzy of instant purchase and limited time availability. Cyber Monday attempts to bridge the demand from Black Friday but physical retailers still sell the bulk of goods. The combination of limited time offerings, in-store promotions, and mobile purchases, combined with next day home delivery will bring an ever bigger percentage of sales back to physical stores.

Stores need QR code displays that consumers can scan in-store to make their purchases and build their shopping carts. They can participate in the limited time / location based opportunity and the stores can avoid the problems of short stocking their shelves.

Let’s see what stores are first to take up the integrated approach to Black Friday sales.

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