Black Friday 2020: How can e-retailers prepare for a surge in online orders?

15 October, 2020


Black Friday 2020 and the following months are set to present e-retailers with real challenges - but also opportunities. With fewer shoppers willing to visit shops, and many unable to, more people than ever before are expected to make all their Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas purchases entirely online.

Black Friday traditionally signals the start of the Christmas shopping season and e-commerce retailers are familiar with the rush of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and subsequent sales. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdowns contributing to a 74% growth in online shopping since March (Modern Retail), this winter looks to be busier than ever for e-retailers.

To ensure the best customer service, on time deliveries, and to make the most of rising demand, how can online retailers prepare for Black Friday this year?

Coping with demand

Communication with supply chain and logistics partners, as well as forward planning, are essential for a successful Black Friday (and beyond). You can ask your e-commerce logistics provider about their overflow warehousing and pre-packaging solutions to ensure items are ready to go; or, consider expanding sales periods by starting Black Friday sales earlier to prevent a sudden surge of orders.

Encouraging customers to take their time can give your e-commerce business breathing space, too. Lengthening your returns window and offering less expensive, slower shipping are easy and effective ways to spread out busy periods and take the pressure off fulfilment centres and warehouse workers. For example, you could offer shoppers a discount when opting for 10-day shipping, or allow customers to return their Black Friday purchases after the Christmas rush.

Flexible delivery

A surge in orders can result in backlogs; the lead up to Christmas is already a busy time for national postal providers and independent couriers, with longer shipping times and delays to delivery - and COVID-19 hasn’t helped: 33% of consumers report receiving online orders later than expected in lockdown (ROIRevolution).

It’s essential to be transparent with shoppers about unavoidable longer shipping times and offer effective solutions. In so doing, you can manage your customers’ expectations which will in turn minimise customer service enquiries. This can greatly limit the demands on your already stretched departments and resources. Another thing that can help keep your shoppers happy is to offer a variety of delivery options at checkout. This way, people can opt to pay more or less depending on how urgently they need to receive their goods.

Enlist an expert

To take the stress out of busy periods and allow you to concentrate on providing the best service to your customers, ensure your ecommerce logistics partner can fully support your business needs. Experts like Asendia can offer an end-to-end service that takes care of everything from packaging to distribution, with a range of shipping methods that allow you to offer shoppers choice. For international shipments, partners like Asendia can provide DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) solutions that allow for duties to be paid at checkout, minimizing further delays in shipment and simplifying the process for the shopper.

For spikes in sales like during Black Friday, and the unpredictable implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, your e-commerce logistics provider should offer expansive international links and trusted local couriers to support your operations worldwide. Experienced partners like Asendia will ensure any surge in sales is easily managed, taking care of every detail from hiring additional trained warehouse staff to helping with availability of resources such as boxes and packing materials.

Make Black Friday greener

Many shoppers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of e-commerce and increasingly expect companies they buy from to reflect those values. To meet this demand, ask your e-commerce logistics provider how they are minimising their carbon footprint and working to make e-commerce more sustainable.

Here at Asendia, for example, we’re committed to voluntary carbon offsetting and offer our European customers a sustainable logistics programme at no extra cost. Many of our warehouses now use energy-efficient LED lighting and, in partnership with the UK’s Woodland Trust, we’ve planted 62,000 trees across Britain.

Overall, Asendia is currently offsetting all its CO2 emissions for transports within Europe and from Europe to another continents, except first mile collection and last mile delivery. And we're working hard all over the world to do even better, being committed to measuring, reducing, offsetting, and advising.

Local knowledge, international expertise

Possible further COVID-19-related restrictions and brick-and-mortar retailers offloading stock mean e-retailers will not only see a peak in sales over Black Friday, but may also be likely to retain high sales volumes over the next few months. With two-thirds of consumers saying they will continue their levels of spend (66%) and the frequency they shop online (68%) after lockdown, it’s clear e-tailers must prepare for a longer-term increase in demand. 

Above all, be open with customers and communicate clearly to manage their expectations, ensuring you prioritise the health and safety of consumers and staff to make the most of the festive season.

To find out more about how Asendia’s expert logistics services can help you prepare for Black Friday 2020 and fulfil Christmas orders, contact us today.

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