Pushing Towards a More Relaxed Cyber Week

Each year we get better and better with our Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday promotions, a week I like to refer to as Cyber Week. This year we ran some amazing deals, probably the biggest sales we’ve ever run. And each year we’ve seen sales growth during Cyber Week, which has been very rewarding. At the same time, we’ve become better and better and scheduling and running promos so we didn’t necessarily feel like we were scrambling around to make it all come together.

Our operations have also become much more refined. From staffing to inventory management to warehouse preparation, we’ve reached a point to where we’re more than prepared to handle the short spike in volume. What used to be an absolutely hectic week has now turned into a busy-but-well-executed week. This year we even had a few of us miss a day of work for personal reasons and we didn’t skip a beat.

With the marketing, promotions, and internal operations becoming as refined as they are, the next challenge for us is making Thanksgiving a more relaxing and enjoyable holiday for us and for our employees. Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday (see this post circa 2005, pre e-commerce). I love the business that we get during that week, but I don’t love losing out on the full Thanksgiving experience.

This year we took a step towards making the weekend less chaotic: we skipped our Saturday package pickup. Traditionally in the past we’ve negotiated a special FedEx pickup to help clear the warehouse and get packages from late Friday moving a little faster. Ultimately this was a ton of work for me to schedule, the pickup often didn’t come in the window that was promised to us, and has resulted in one or more of us stuck at the warehouse on a Saturday evening waiting around for FedEx to show up. With the addition of USPS this year, we could either try to schedule them for a Saturday pickup as well, potentially inviting double the problems, or just skip the whole thing all together. It just wasn’t worth the additional hassle and stress for the small win.

Next year, we’ve decided that on Black Friday we’re going to have everyone come in an hour later in the morning in an effort to help make Thanksgiving a little more enjoyable for everyone. This year we finished packing orders earlier than we anticipated with everyone on hand. I know I personally won’t feel as pressured to get home and prepare for work quite as early, and hopefully in turn can kick back and relax a bit more on Thanksgiving day.

It’s interesting how Cyber Week has progressed over time for us. At first, it was all about capturing every sale possible, as it should have been. Once we sort of got that formula down, we focused on getting our warehouse operations in order. And now that those are in place, we can focus on reducing our stress a little bit so that we can enjoy the holiday with our families.

5 comments on Pushing Towards a More Relaxed Cyber Week

  1. Rob says:

    Hey,

    Congrats on having a great Cyber week! It sounds like the company is really maturing if you’re looking at ways to reduce stress.

    Did you ever consider using a fulfilment service, even just additional capacity at peak season?

    It’s tough when the holidays you want to be part of with your family are also peak season when you could be pushing the business forward and finding the right balance between the two is hard.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Rob! Yea, I think “maturing” is a good word. We use it ourselves.

      Fulfillment services are a really interesting topic. I’ve discussed Fulfillment by Amazon with a few people recently. We’ve also chatted about local places too. Right now it’s not something we’d need, but we see the possibility in a few years, especially if we expand into other e-commerce stores and/or some of our own products. The largest downside for our current items is that a large portion like towels and brushes don’t have barcodes on them and can be very tough to differentiate. I’m sure that could be overcome, but it does concern us a little.

      • Rob says:

        Hey.

        Yeah, FBA is one option – it’s quite expensive compared to others if you don’t actually intend on selling on Amazon though! I’ve been selling using FBA for just over a year now and I’ve got to say, it’s incredibly pleasing being able to see orders coming in and being shipped out and knowing that there’s nothing I need to do to meet capacity once things are at the warehouse.

        In terms of the non-barcoded items, for Amazon you’d need to bag & barcode them, plain and simple. For other 3PL systems I guess you ask them what they need. If those are low profit items anyway it might not make sense to have someone else process them.

        • Adam McFarland says:

          That’s good to know that products would need to be bagged and barcoded. I kind of assumed that but didn’t know for sure. I’m guessing here, but roughly 40% of our items off the top of my head are loose. We’d have to probably create 3-packs and 10-packs of things like towels. Some of our competitors do this, I think part of the appeal with us for the casual detailers is that you can buy a single towel if you need it.

          If and when we get closer to trying FBA I’ll have to pick your brain a bit 🙂

          • Rob says:

            I think 3 or 10 packs are an option – another option is simply to not FBA those items. The system isn’t suitable for items that are cheap or items that are cheap in comparison to their volume & weight.

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