Black Friday – Curse or Blessing for E-Commerce Companies?

Black Friday

As the calendar pages turn towards the end of November, the e-commerce world is gearing up for one of the most significant periods in retail: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These events originated as marketing strategies to boost retail sales, marking the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States. Meanwhile, they have become a global phenomenon, reshaping the landscape of online retail with their promise of steep discounts and special deals.

Black Friday as a sales driver

Black Friday, along with the extended Black Week and Cyber Monday, represents a golden opportunity for e-commerce companies. A substantial increase in sales often marks this period, as consumers eagerly anticipate these days for major purchases. The spike in shopping activity can lead to record-breaking revenue figures and make a significant contribution to annual turnover. Additionally, these events are powerful tools for customer acquisition. Lured by attractive deals and discounts, new customers flock to e-commerce sites, allowing businesses to expand their customer base and build long-term relationships.

Challenging times for logistics

The surge in sales, while beneficial, can strain existing operational capacities. Fulfilling a significantly higher volume of orders without compromising on efficiency or accuracy is a challenge that requires robust logistics processes. Otherwise, the consequences can be severe, ranging from unused potential to customer dissatisfaction and long-term loss of revenue. Even at bargain prices, customer expectations remain high. They demand fast, error-free delivery, which is increasingly difficult to achieve as order volumes rise. Increased sales invariably lead to a higher volume of returns. Efficiently managing these returns is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction and ensuring that returned products are processed quickly and made available for resale.

Labor shortages in peak seasons

Logistics companies are already struggling to find enough skilled workers due to demographic change. This problem is becoming even more acute during peak seasons when a much larger volume of orders needs to be processed in the same amount of time. Precisely times like these show how resilient companies' logistics processes are. Companies with a low level of automation in their warehouses often reach their limits here. It is, therefore, essential to carefully examine which processes are particularly strained by the increased order volume and the shortage of skilled workers. One of these key processes in many warehouses is order picking.

To automate this step, companies should count on solutions that are reliable and achieve high throughput to process orders quickly and error-free. They should also be flexible and able to handle the broad and ever-changing product portfolio of e-commerce companies. With an AI-powered robotics solution such as Sereact’s, pick-and-pack processes can be fully automated. The solution meets all requirements for fast and reliable order picking, even during the peak season:

Flexibility  Sereact's AI software enables robots to pick any object reliably, regardless of shape, color, and size - without teach-in. This is because the robots already train for all possible picking scenarios in the simulation environment developed by Sereact, and can ultimately transfer this knowledge to productive use. In companies with a large and constantly changing product portfolio, this is particularly important as the robot must be able to adapt its picking strategies to new objects constantly.

Speed Thanks to highly efficient AI predictions and optimized path planning, a robot performance of less than 2 seconds per pick can be achieved. This means that up to 1500 picks per hour are possible. With this throughput, the significantly higher order volume during the Black Friday period can also be handled without any problems. 

24/7 Productivity The robustness and high reliability of Sereact's picking solution enable almost continuous operation, even at night, on weekends, or campaign days like Black Friday. This helps e-commerce companies, especially during peak seasons, to overcome the shortage of skilled workers and meet customer performance requirements despite high demand.

Efficient Return Handling A high order volume usually means that customers also return more products. Returns handling already presents companies with challenges during regular operations, and during peak seasons, these can often be difficult to process. With PickGPT, Sereact has added an intelligent feature to the picking solution that combines robotics software with large language models. By increasing contextual understanding and recognizing anomalies, Sereact's solution can also help automate return handling. You can find out more about PickGPT here.

For e-commerce companies, the Black Friday period brings great potential and challenges. In particular, the shortage of skilled workers during such peak seasons can mean that customer demands regarding delivery time and quality cannot be met. As a result, companies need to assess the resilience of their logistics processes and rely on suitable automation solutions. Order picking, in particular, can be essential in guaranteeing a stable supply chain. Sereact's autonomous robotics solution enables full automation of pick-and-pack processes and can help companies exploit their potential, even during peak periods.