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Why Black Friday and Cyber Monday Still Present Several Physical Supply Chain Challenges

Why Black Friday and Cyber Monday Still Present Several Physical Supply Chain Challenges

As consumer experience evolves technologically and globally, Black Friday — the king of consumer holidays — has grown along with it. With brands expanding their presence beyond brick-and-mortar stores to online shops with global customers, Black Friday has expanded from one day after Thanksgiving into its own sub-holiday season — even adding an online extension, Cyber Monday, to benefit shoppers who want to avoid doorbuster mobs or find deals from the comfort of their couch. But while the shopping experience has become simpler for consumers, from a brand perspective, Black Friday and Cyber Monday still present several physical supply chain challenges. This year for the first time, Black Friday had its own full week (here’s looking at you Amazon), so in order to remain competitive, brands need to make sure they are prepared.

One of the trickiest aspects of this shopping season is forecasting. Black Friday and Cyber Monday present a great opportunity for brands to purge last year’s models — if they forecast accurately, which means looking to past years’ trends. The forecasting process needs to begin at least a year in advance, so if the conversation around this Cyber Monday didn’t start immediately following last Cyber Monday, brands may find themselves scrambling. Forecasting helps companies navigate an effective approach to inventory, so they are prepared for crazy holiday shopping spikes.

Since 2016, growing trends across cyber shopping have made forecasting even more complex. One trend has affected supply chains especially: consumers buying products online and picking them up in the store. From a supply chain perspective, this can play out in two ways: the first is an online order that ships the product to the store to get picked up, like an e-commerce fulfillment. Or, more complicated, the online order can draw from the in-store inventory, which is not always represented accurately online. As one customer places a product in their cyber shopping cart, another customer may have taken it off the shelf and put it in their physical shopping cart. Each of these possibilities needs to factor into a brand’s Black Friday season strategy, and requires brands to think not only about what products they want to sell but where those products are stored so that they are easily accessible.

A partner like ModusLink enables brands to make inventory decisions later, rather than several months in advance, by allowing them the freedom to keep all inventory together in one place or spread it out across a number of markets, depending on their presence and forecasted needs. This ensures that companies won’t leave inventory sitting in a warehouse in China far away from every American consumer that wants to get their hands on it. With locations worldwide, ModusLink helps brands to store inventory closer to where it needs to be and then push that inventory into different channels. And because so much of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday mayhem can’t be anticipated in forecasting, ModusLink counsels clients on regional packout, postponement and creating multiple SKUs at the backend to fulfill high demands. All of this allows companies to react more quickly to last-minute consumer demand and is especially helpful when surprises pop up, as they do every year.

With ModusLink, companies don’t need to worry about things like hot product shortages and can instead keep focused on promoting and propelling their brand. ModusLink provides end-to-end supply chain visibility so customers know what products they have available and where they are located. No matter how much planning goes into this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, brands will still benefit from having a partner like ModusLink to help them tackle physical supply chain challenges, so they don’t have to.  To learn more, check out the variety of solutions that ModusLink has to offer here.

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