Will you be Enjoying Black Friday?

November 27th will see retailers discount selected product lines by up to 40%; this is old news but what is all the fuss about?

The logistical challenges arise from the perceived requirement to deliver orders within a 48 hour window; Black Friday is exactly 4 weeks before Christmas. Will the average consumer be concerned if their presents arrive 4 weeks before the big day or 3 weeks. Parcel hubs fell over last year because retailers shipped out millions of purchases in an instantaneous fashion through a network that is simply not designed to cater for such demand. In any free market economy the huge demand spike would drastically inflate the spot price; anyone got rugby world cup tickets…..

Business begin preparing for peak just after Easter and many retailers make more than half their annual revenue at Christmas. The stress that Black Friday puts on supply chains and retailers is unrelenting and there is no net positive gain on the bottom line (see my previous game theory post!).

Given that the majority of purchases are not urgent I see no reason why delivery expectations should not be managed; over 10% of deliveries fail first time anyway so what’s the hurry. Are consumers going to be upset to discover that 24 hour delivery is £10 but waiting a couple of days is free after spending an hour queuing to save £400 on a TV. Perhaps, so why not manage that expectation at the start of the customer journey and provide supply chain relief through an additional income stream. I only require next day delivery when I have forgotten to order something; certainly not the case 4 weeks before the big day.

There is a tradition which we still maintain when I’m down in Brighton; the Christmas shopping pub crawl. We take great delight in hitting the high street on the days leading up to Christmas and doing the last minute shopping whilst soaking up the festive atmosphere with a gallon or 2 of mulled cider. Not only is this a good fun social activity there is a tangible benefit to local businesses (with the added excitement of never quite remembering what you have bought!). Argos are among those companies pioneering rapid same day delivery; I would be very happy with a click and collect service where I can drop in between pubs and am welcomed with a gluwhein on arrival at the store to collect my bargains.

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