Planning Black Friday: A Project Manager’s View

Black Friday is coming up. Many of us are already scouting the doorbusters, deciding where we will go when doors open. Planning Black Friday is not an easy undertaking for customers – and it is a much bigger project for sellers! What goes in to a successful Black Friday? Let’s take a look.

Planning Black Friday: First Steps

Successful retailers want to get you in the door – that’s their first goal. Planning Black Friday begins with analyzing sales data and market research to determine which sales will bring customers into the store. This begins months in advance! The store will analyze buying patterns both in-store and online. Smart retailers look at customer’s total shopping baskets, and find links between products. For example, if 60% of the people who bought a new bathroom sink also bought a bathroom mirror, having a sale on one of the two should bring in customers looking for the other. A well-constructed sale on the first item will drive sales of both items, and the margins item on the second will drive profits. This is not a simple process, and it requires a lot of research. For online retailers, the same basic research stages remain true, except “traffic” is website visits, instead of physical customers.

Next Steps: Operations and Logistics

By the time step one is finished, the seller has a good idea of what items will be put on sale, and why. The next step in planning Black Friday is planning the operational aspects of the day. Ordering the items, for starters – popular items don’t just sell out quickly on the retail side, they also sell out quickly on the wholesale side, too. Planning the store layout is also important. Where will the sale items go? What items should be placed next to them? Is there enough space to accommodate the numbers of visitors you are hoping to attract? That isn’t just a sales issue, that’s a safety issue too. Unfortunately, injuries can occur when crowds are pushed into spaces to small to hold them. Planning Black Friday right means making sure this doesn’t happen. Staffing needs to be set up, the store should be cleaned until it gleams, merchandise needs to be sorted, and more. For online retailers, these steps are similar. Merchandise needs to be sourced, the website needs to be optimized, the layout tuned up, and every page tested.

Final Steps: Bringing the Project Together

As the big day approaches, planning Black Friday switches in scope from preparation to action. The plans are set into motion. Orders are received, and warehouses are set up properly. The store layout that was designed is now implemented on the ground. Ads are purchased, designed, and sent out. Everyone is assigned their task, and project planning now becomes project management. The focus moves to deadlines, task updates, and team coordination. Using project management tools will come in handy, here. Delegation of tasks is key. Who is responsible for the store layout? Who is responsible for signage? Who is responsible for pricing? Who is responsible for ad purchasing and creation? Managing the project takes attention to detail and keeping everyone focused on the goal. If you’ve ever been in a store that just didn’t have its act together, this is probably where the breakdown occurred.

Conclusion: Planning Black Friday Properly

Planning Black Friday properly means implementing project management practices to the business. You need a robust, research driven plan. You need to structure the operational aspect effectively. And when the project goes live, you need to manage it properly across the different teams and tasks. Good project management practice will help ensure a successful Black Friday. Poor project management practice can derail the best of ideas.

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