While Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the days leading up to Christmas are traditionally the time of year shoppers look for the best holiday deal, retailers actually prepare months ahead of time. In fact, planning often starts as soon as Jan. 2 and lasts all the way through the end of the year. Mountains of research on consumer shopping patterns are typically analyzed to ensure retailers are fully prepared to meet consumer demands and millions of dollars are invested to create seamless experiences, all to help retailers hit their sales goals.
Over the years, the way consumers shop during Black Friday through the rest of the holiday season has changed dramatically, but the way retailers source and bring products to market hasn’t kept pace. In this post, we’re taking a look behind the scenes at what it takes to make holiday shopping a reality in today’s New Retail Economy. While consumers may expect retail’s backend to be flashy and fun, as veterans in the space we know that it actually tends to be a bit clunky. So let’s look at some of the numbers involved in discovering, developing and delivering those awesome products to the store floor.
Typically, when retailers are working with vendors from all over the world, the quickest way to keep in contact is through emails. There can be upwards of 1,800 back-and-forth emails between all involved parties to secure the right product, which can make it feel like there’s little time for anything besides digging through your inbox.
I doubt many go into this industry for their love of Excel, but spreadsheets are a necessary evil in most retailers’ everyday lives. To help organize data from the beginning of the customer journey right through the product development and delivery process, as many as 142 spreadsheets can exist at one time for a single product.
In the countless number of meetings between retailers, distributors and suppliers, many presentations are made. Depending upon the consumer demand for a given product and the number of parties involved in the process, it’s not uncommon for up to 14 PowerPoints to be developed.
8 Overseas Trips
As with any large-scale project, visiting the facilities where products are actually made helps ensure high quality and allows for in-person discussion of the details of buying and selling between vendors. We’ve found that some retailers are footing the bill for up to eight overseas trips across multiple departments to deliver one seasonal assortment of products, costing thousands of dollars and countless hours of time. And the number of assortments per year? For some retailers it is four, for others 16 and increasingly we are seeing a seasonless approach.
Why is it that in our digitally connected world, retailers seem to be relying on old-school methods for getting products to market? It makes no sense that we invest so much in our frontend consumer experience for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season, but rely on antiquated methods to prepare for this critical time of year. With holiday shopping like Black Friday significantly impacting retailers’ bottom lines (sometimes by as much as 30 percent of total year sales), it’s imperative to have a solid plan of action in place to get the most of this time of year.
To learn how your retail community can bolster its productivity, check out our take on the New Retail Economy.