Get Out of the Back Office and Grow Your Sales this Black Friday with Process Automation

Get Out of the Back Office and Grow Your Sales this Black Friday with Process Automation
Written by
Richard Emanuel
Published on
November 13, 2020
Read time

Order processing is at the heart of any high-volume eCommerce operation. When we think of order processing, we typically think of what happens in the warehouse, but the fact is that the process starts the moment the order is placed and doesn’t end until it’s been delivered and the transaction financially reconciled. 

During Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) when order volume is at an all-time high, efficient order processing is more important than ever. By leveraging automation, we can remove opportunities for error, speed up the process and involve fewer people, all of which contribute to higher margins for you and a better experience for your customers.

We teamed up with our friends at Brightpearl, our preferred app for automating eCommerce operations, to highlight five areas where you can employ automation to simplify your operations, save time and boost sales this holiday season. 

Lean on automation to streamline your back office operations 

Many brands get so caught up in planning their unbeatable deals that they overlook the operational side of BFCM. But Brightpearl’s research with Trustpilot shows that 77% of negative online reviews are directly related to service issues that occur after the “buy” button rather than product issues. 

If you’re going to run campaigns that result in a short-term spike in sales (a la Black Friday), relying on the same back office infrastructure you use to meet everyday demand likely isn’t sufficient. Instead, you need a scalable operations framework that can cope with the influx of demand.

The key with this is to minimize the opportunity for error on the operations side. Errors can come from mis-picking or packing in the warehouse, the wrong information being entered into systems, manual processes that allow for human error, and generally having disparate information that isn’t easily accessible. 

The more you can automate your back office processes and eliminate areas of high human contact with orders, the more you’ll reduce the amount of errors that occur on the fulfilment side. Minimizing errors through automation and having systems in place to deal with regular, repetitive tasks allows you to steer the efforts of your staff towards more complex orders. It also frees up time and money to invest into marketing and acquisition efforts to grow the business.

Evaluate your processes and set clear expectations with your customers 

Setting clear expectations and then meeting them is always key to providing a great customer experience, but it’s especially true during the holidays when people are gifting and shopping at the last minute. 

Set realistic expectations about your inventory by displaying real-time stock updates. Keep customers apprised of current ship times, using automated shipping workflows to keep them as fast as possible. Inform customers of the ordering deadlines to get gifts by key dates, like Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas, etc. 

Meeting the promises you make is essential. If you’re promising next day shipping, for example, BFCM can’t be used as an excuse not to deliver on it. This is where Brightpearl’s robust automated reporting tools like inventory dashboards and shipping workflow managers come in handy.

If you can’t offer discounts, offer expanded fulfillment delivery options

For some retailers, like those positioned as luxury brands or those with razor-thin margins, offering deep discounts during BFCM simply isn’t a viable business option. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cash in on the increased online shopping volume during this busy time of year. 

We’re seeing brands gain traction by offering flexible shopping experiences like Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS)/Click and Collect. According to Nielsen, click and collect shopping has increased 30% in the past two years. Brightpearl’s retail operations platform makes it easy to implement customer-pleasing initiatives like BOPIS that save you time and help you stand out from the crowd even when you can’t compete on price. 

In addition, free shipping is another way to grab attention and make for an awesome customer experience. Thirty-eight percent of retailers say they plan to adopt free delivery within the next six months to meet the demand. 

Adopt a flexible returns strategy 

Your return policy is a vital part of not only your operational strategy, but your customer acquisition strategy. When a merchant offers a favorable and simple returns policy, 72% of consumers are likely to spend more with that merchant. 

During BFCM, a lot of consumers are buying with the expectation that they might make a return. Consumers are also spending more time shopping around for the best deals, which might include purchasing from multiple merchants and keeping only one winning option. To manage the increase in return traffic and gain an edge over your competitors, consider offering longer return windows, a variety of options for shipping items back, and free returns, all of which contribute to the best possible shopping experience. 

Also, consider implementing hassle-free returns where the customer doesn’t have to speak with a service agent to initiative their return. Then automate the process that happens after the return is initiated--updating inventory levels, issuing customer refunds, crediting the sale on your income statement, etc.--to save your staff time while increasing customer satisfaction. 

Offering simpler returns makes it easier for you to capitalize on a customer’s lifetime value (LTV) over the long term, even if one item they buy during this year’s BFCM doesn’t work out. 

Provide excellent post-purchase customer service

BFCM is a time when merchants are discounting heavily. Because of this, you’re likely to attract more customers who are buying from you for the first time. 

If operational issues lead to that first experience being negative, it’s a missed opportunity to retain a cohort of new customers who could otherwise have been turned into loyal brand advocates. Customers who are on the receiving end of a bad experience may go as far as to leave a bad review, which can negatively impact acquisition as well.

Brightpearl’s ‘Rise of the Review Culture’ research shows 89% of consumers will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience, leaving very little room for error. To get that first interaction just right, invest time up front in making sure that any kinks in your operational mix are ironed out. If you fail to do this, any issues in the back office are only going to be highlighted and exacerbated. 

Implementing a scalable and reliable operations platform like Brightpearl can help you cope with increased demand, provide a better experience after the buy button and generally make the entire BFCM period less stressful. For expert guidance on how to integrate your online store with an end-to-end retail operations platform without the tech hassle, schedule your free consultation with Parkfield today.

Check out the rest of the BFCM Last-Min Strategies:

Rob's Quick Guide to BFCM: Our Head of eCom, Robert Befumo, gives unique insights on unprecedented holiday season to ensure you're prepped and ready.

Increase Your Subs By 7x: Yes. You read it right. Increase your subscribers 7x in the run up to BFCM with these copy and paste strategies for your pop-ups and fly-outs.

Smash Your Email ROI: 3 email templates that will up your email game during Black Friday Cyber Monday.

Maximize Your Site Conversions: Put your conversions into overdrive!  10 strategies you can use right now to build the foundation for a successful 2020 holiday season.

Grow Sales Thru Stellar Support: Turn your customer support experience into a revenue generating machine with key insights for your site and reps.

Crush Your Holiday Sales Targets: Use your customer reviews to drive sales this holiday season and beyond.

High-Converting Templates for SMS, Facebook Messenger & More: Use these ten templates to craft engaging, high-converting messages for SMS marketing and Facebook Messenger during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Don’t Blow Your Budget!: 10 tips to help you navigate paid media strategies this Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM).