In looking back at my Cyber Week posts, as far back as 2010 we had started to “figure it out” and in recent years the week became less hectic madness and more of a big sale that we were entirely prepared for, similar to some of our larger Spring sales.
Last year I wrote Pushing Towards a More Relaxed Cyber Week:
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.
So that’s what we did. We looked back at last year’s numbers, factored in some growth, considered the highest realistic growth, and decided to relax our schedules a bit. Regular hours on Black Friday. No weekend shift or weekend pickup. An on-call schedule for us owners as opposed to scheduling us every day. Everyone was able to relax and enjoy their Thanksgiving.
What happened? Sales were shocking in the best possible way. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were our two largest sales days ever and subsequently we vastly exceeded even our most optimistic projections.
Without the weekend shift Monday became the busiest warehouse day we’ve ever had. Complicated of course by the fact that we’re mid-construction and everything is in a temporary spot. We’re not exactly running at the optimal efficiency that we have planned for a few months from now. In fact, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time working on our future warehouse layout in preparation for days like Monday.
As I would expect, our team responded. The nine of us not only got out every shipment from over the weekend, but we also got every Cyber Monday shipment out that was placed before 2 PM, meeting our 1 PM deadline and then some. We were prepared to miss that cutoff for the first time if we needed to. Around 2:30 FedEx Ground, USPS, and FedEx Express all showed up and we were nowhere near done. We were able to get 15 minutes extra by asking our Ground driver to do his other pickups in the park first and then come back to us. While USPS, Express, and then Ground loaded their trucks we kicked it into an extra gear. I asked for a second, later pickup but while they were making phone calls we finished up. As soon as the door closed we were all physically exhausted but on an emotional high. It felt like we just won the Super Bowl.
Where did the growth come from? I spent some time investigating yesterday. Similar to the story of our company as a whole, it was no one thing. Every number looked better than last year, in large part because of all of the hard work we put in to improving our website, our newsletters, our product selection, our customer service, our shipping, and dozens of other things. I think we were also helped by the larger shopping trends in general, as consumers are shopping less in-store and more online (online shopping was up 17.7% on Black Friday), and they’re increasingly shopping on mobile, which we’re well positioned for.
Next year we will be prepared. Still, it occasionally feels good to have the exhilarating rush that accompanies exceeding your expectations!