Besting Black Friday with Communications

2 min read

Daren Finney | November 01, 2022

Pumpkin spice in August, cornucopias in September, and candy canes in October. If it seems like festive preparations are sneaking up earlier and earlier every year, it’s true. The so-called “holiday creep” means businesses prepare for seasonal deals months in advance, and Black Friday is no exception.

Once limited to one hectic day a year, “official” Black Friday deals worldwide now extend from U.S. Thanksgiving through the following Cyber Monday. And lately, stores have been expanding the holiday shopping season even earlier, with competitive sales starting in early November or October.

An extended season of holiday promotions can ring up to a big sale for retailers if they can manage the communications challenges that come with an influx of shoppers and constantly changing deals. Thankfully, modern unified communications and collaboration technology is the gift that keeps on giving, keeping employees connected to each other and to customers. 

Black Friday Expectations for 2022

The unique challenges of 2022 have resulted in different consumer expectations this year. Having learned from supply chain delays, they’re ordering gifts early, hoping they arrive on time. And in light of higher prices, they’re more cautious about spending, choosing to spread out their purchases and waiting to pounce on the best deals.

Sales are still expected to spike on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Still, retailers must adjust their approach to manage an extended shopping period in addition to the “traditional” holiday rush. Businesses must find new ways to keep customers and employees happy, from online storefronts to brick-and-mortar locations.

Extended Holiday Headaches

Between inflation, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and an extended shopping period, retailers have a lot to contend with this year. On top of that, they’ll have to manage not only hybrid workers but also hybrid shoppers – customers who expect a seamless experience online and off.

From customer interactions to logistical management, effective communications are the key to ensuring the season is a success. Black Friday poses many obstacles to businesses, but equipping employees with the proper communications and collaboration technology can help keep the mood merry and spirits bright.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top Black Friday (and holiday sale) challenges businesses face in 2022 and some ways stores can prepare for them.

 1. Labor Shortages

Although retail is notorious for high turnover rates at the best of times, many stores find themselves more shorthanded than ever going into the holidays. Even with additional seasonal employees, companies must employ methods of workforce optimization to make the most of their staff.

Adequate training ensures that new workers start with the knowledge they need to do their jobs. Whether they’re operating a contact center or helping in-person customers, equipping new hires with easy-to-use communications tools reduces the time and cost of training.

When there’s just too much for overwhelmed workers to handle, innovative technology can help fill gaps. For example, AI-powered chatbots can manage basic customer requests, allowing human agents to focus on more complicated tasks. Data and analytics give employers insights into where to best focus their employees’ most valuable resources.

2. Hybrid Workforces

The retail employee profile has also changed significantly over the past few years. While stores rely on in-person workers to handle much of their customer interactions, remote contact centers also manage high volumes of calls and communication.

Whether deskless or desk-based, all employees should have the same positive experience regarding collaboration. Enterprise collaboration software that works equally well on a tablet, desktop, and mobile empowers staff to do their jobs regardless of location or device.

3. Omnichannel Shopping Experiences

Today’s Black Friday bargain hunter might be hitting the stores after Thanksgiving – but not before researching reviews or comparing prices online. Omnichannel is standard nowadays, allowing retailers to reach customers across multiple platforms.

Likewise, in-person associates and remote contact center agents should access the same knowledge base – a client’s shopping history, current promotions, or the most updated inventory records. Omnichannel customer experience management platforms give staff the tools they need to manage customer requests and interactions effortlessly.

4. Logistical Concerns

Supply chain issues plague retailers, leading to unpredictable inventory and slow deliveries. While shoppers compensate by buying gifts in advance, businesses must manage logistics between suppliers, stores, warehouses, and distribution in an extended timeframe.

Coordinating all these moving parts requires interoperable communications that every partner can easily use. Whether retailers are contacting suppliers on the phone or if store associates need to check the status of an item on their tablet, interactions need to be seamless and reliable.

Flexible, multi-device collaboration solutions that combine messaging, calling, file sharing, and video conferencing keep the supply chain moving forward. Critical information is always available when and where needed, so employees are always up to date and ready to help customers.

API integration with smart technology in warehouses and other logistical applications gives retailers further insight into potential supply chain issues and makes them more efficient during busy periods.

Beat the Holiday Rush with Mitel

Although Black Friday now stretches across a week or even the entire month of November, retailers can use advanced communications and collaboration technology to manage extended holiday sales.

Learn how Mitel’s flexible, efficient solutions can help your business conquer holiday shopping challenges.

Daren FinneySenior Vice President, Global Channels

Daren brings over 25 years of global sales and channel operations experience and leads Mitel’s global partner organization spanning strategy, program development, and administration.

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