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#InsightThursday: Why Do Systems And Processes Keep Failing On Black Friday?

With Christmas around the corner some of us might have already forgotten about the Black Friday / Cyber Monday shopping madness. Shoppers experiencing frustration though, or retailers watching their IT systems going down in the most crucial moment are probably not amongst those who left Black Friday so easily behind.

Every year it’s more or less the same story for Black Friday. Retailers announce great offers, shoppers storm websites and stores, systems can’t keep up, and everyone gets frustrated, promising to themselves next year is going to be better. And yet, it’s not.

Looking back to the madness, retailers realise that their systems need to be more developed, tested, scaled to keep up with the demand. But as easy as it may sound, it can be bloody hard to achieve with lengthy delivery times for new systems and features, increased costs and a rapid pace of change.

This is where some retailers decide working with Agile to tackle some of these issues. Take Zara as an example - they handle their stock in an Agile way, producing a lower stock, inspecting and adapting the items which sell best and then re-stocking only on those. By doing so Zara reduces waste, decreases costs and involves customer feedback at its retail strategy’s heart.

Back to Black Friday - below are a few articles highlighting retailer failures and thus the importance of having better systems and processes able to cope with requirements.

Black Friday - Lessons for brands and retailers

Online and more recently social platforms are utterly important sales channels - they need to be optimised and scaled up for managing high demand. Brands need to embrace change and offer social selling the credit it deserves for cashing orders. Moreover, retailers have to optimise both in-store and online shopping.

An analysis of website failures

Website performance monitoring tool SciVisum ran an analysis on website failures for Black Friday 2015. The analysis confirmed what people could experience in real-time: errors and failures in website performance, some of them due to the fact that sites have not been tested in high-traffic environments. The article also mentions which websites were prepared to manage all the enquiries.

What we can learn from the failure of Black Friday

City AM reports how queues and demand in-store was much lower than expected, whilst websites failed to respond to high demand from customers. In reality, the predictability of Black Friday sales is uncertain. Retailers need to constantly adapt, embrace for change and accept that the outcome is uncertain.

Argos customers not satisfied with Black Friday order handling

Argos has been affected this year by the Black Friday effects with delays in carrying out deliveries, highly dissatisfied customers and insufficient staff to handle customer service enquiries.

Black Friday and the rise of mobile commerce

Social Media Today shows how retailers have to embrace mobile commerce, optimising customer journey as much as possible for a positive outcome.

All in all, each Black-Friday-like sales madness brings its lesson to retailers. In the ‘inspect and adapt’ Agile spirit, this can be a turning point for a change in strategy that allows for a more effective way of working, reducing waste and increasing customer satisfaction.

How was your Black Friday experience this year? Share your thoughts using the comments box below.

Missed the last #InsightThursday feature? Read it here.


Sabina Stoiciu

Sabina Stoiciu

A PR and marketing professional, Sabina enjoys working in a vibrant business environment. She sees Agile as a mindset that enables everyone to think and work differently, achieving better outcomes. Sabina has a bachelor's degree in Communication and PR, and a master's degree in Marketing and Advertising. She previously worked as a Marketing professional for a technical product - a form building platform - where Agile had started to improve the company's performance. Read more