Black Friday 2020: How retailers are preparing themselves for the busiest online season during a pandemic

Online shopping surges as black Friday approaches

Black Friday is arguably the most significant event to grace the online shopping industry throughout the year, and it’s no surprise to hear that most retailers are expecting the busiest time yet. For most people, this event offers the perfect opportunity to bag some fantastic deals in the run-up to Christmas, and for others, it’s an excellent way for them to turn a profit. Due to the UK population being in total lockdown, there’s no better time to indulge in some online shopping, and the stats line up with the projections. Online retail sales experts have projected a growth of as much as 34-45% year on year, and this is undoubtedly going to put immense pressure on online retailers. 

Online retail has been massively affected throughout the pandemic.

The First Fulfilment and The Common Issues 

 

The first thing consumers are doing is heading towards the tech lead websites, to bag themselves a bargain on a new TV or other various electrical appliances. However, websites only handle a set number of visits before running into serious problems. We’ve seen this across numerous different websites, and causing users to join a “waiting list”, which frustrates a lot of online shoppers. Following these events, some customers are un-happy as websites start to crash, and orders become un-fulfilled, but this doesn’t stop the madness of the rush. 

 

Some online retailers have prepared well for this projected influx of traffic, so they’ve well optimised their websites and upgraded server capacity to handle the surge of customers. These retailers are the businesses that will thrive during this particular pandemic, just on Black Friday alone. Large retail companies must prepare by providing an unrivalled customer experience for the e-commerce market, meaning faultless logistics and excellent customer service, as this time is more crucial than ever before. 

 

retail staff working throughout covid-19

The People Behind the Operation

Websites will see a mass influx of sessions across all different platforms, but if they fail to accommodate for the surge, they will suffer in the long-run. However, it’s not just the influx in website traffic that online retailers are concerned about. They must ensure that all members of staff are fully supported, as it will be the busiest time in retail history. These retailers are in urgent need of temporary staff to deal with the immense pressure they will surely face. It’s arguably going to be the most difficult period in retail history, due to the majority of staff working from home, making it difficult to get products signed off etc. 

 

It’s going to be an extremely difficult task for businesses to display the right message to the customer, and ensure they’re not met with a “page does not exist” or “sorry we’re out of stock”. Most companies have limited staff on their payroll, and many are currently furloughed due to the current lockdown, so companies must think of ways to accommodate for the market surge without upsetting staff. 

 

The staff that carry out the database and analytical work will feel immense pressure, as they will be required to ensure stock levels are okay. Customers won’t wait around for a website to load usually, but this is especially true in today’s situation. Websites have seen a change with customers leaving the website before the page even loads properly, resulting in loss of business. The most important thing that retailers are focusing on right now is ensuring they have the right stock and enough of it. 

 

The Cloud Transition

With more and more data being processed each individual day, it’s imperative that retailers take the data seriously and do everything in their power to protect it. Most retailers have moved towards cloud computing, as it’s designed to help businesses tackle the tough challenges ahead, due to it’s flexible scaling capabilities. Cloud recovery and the back-up offer a seamless service that allows businesses to safely manage and process data, which is more important than ever before. Some reports indicate that mobile users abandon their session if they’re waiting more than three seconds for the website to load.

 

 Unlike previous years, consumers are becoming savvier with their spending, and their requirements and demands are much higher as a result of this. Retail giant Primark is offering a bag that turns into the perfect Christmas wrapping paper, solving a problem we never knew we had. 

 

Open for Business as Usual (Kind Of)

Despite everything going on in the world right now, customers will still want to visit physical stores, and some remain open throughout lockdown. However, stores have implemented strict regulations that customers must abide by, to protect them and staff from COVID-19. Many stores are monitoring the shop floors via video surveillance to ensure everyone is following the correct social distancing procedures, and to learn which isles are the most popular.