As I write this, Black Friday 2022 is well underway. Despite the gloomy economy, with consumers facing high inflation and interest rates heading upward, there still seems to be a lot of confidence at the end-of-year sales season. A quick look at predictions for this year’s Black Friday reveals endless tips on where to find the best bargains and strategies for not missing out.
My colleague Phil Audley wrote recently about the challenges that seasonal events like Black Friday create for e-commerce and retail brands. When sales rocket overnight it can be hard to not only manage the logistics required to ensure products are delivered on time, but also to handle the spike in customer questions and interactions.
But I think that there is a bigger question than just managing the seasonality of Black Friday. The need to build flexibility and the ability to respond to change in an agile way runs across all industries.
We live in uncertain times at present. A global pandemic ravaged the world economy for the past couple of years. Even now, with recovery underway, high inflation and interest rates are eroding growth. A spike in energy costs is also creating extra costs for most businesses.
The pandemic and this ongoing uncertainty really underline the need for agility to be a central strategy. It’s becoming essential for business survival.
The Boston Consulting Group has created a very interesting guide to business resilience. Their initial advice is to find where you are right now. Did your business change during the pandemic, so you already have some capabilities to change again or have you settled into a new situation that would – once again – be difficult to change?
Resilience also comes in many different forms. Are you looking to preserve cash flow? Are you looking to ensure your daily operations don’t break down? Are you looking to protect your team and prevent employees from fleeing to the opposition? Are you looking to maintain a strong market position with growth in sales?
There is also an additional area of tech resilience. Technology is changing so fast these days that a constant awareness of what is possible in your industry may no longer be about innovation – it could be essential to prevent your competition from redefining the marketplace.
Market volatility and general economic uncertainty don’t inspire confidence. Nobody really wants to be in a situation where they are unsure what will happen next month, let alone next year. However, this is also the type of market environment where your ability to handle change can become a key differentiator.
If your competition could not handle the shock of moving every employee to work at home during Covid, but you were flexible enough to adapt, then this would have created a very strong advantage. Likewise, the e-commerce brand that has prepared for Black Friday by creating a highly flexible customer service operation that can scale up and down as required, has a strong advantage over its rivals that are forcing customers to wait an hour on the phone for customer service.
Building the agility to handle unusual situations is not just about the seasonal events you can predict. It is about building a business that has resilience at its core. It is about building a business that embraces innovation and change because that’s what will help you to stay more than one step ahead of the competition.
CC Photo by Eden Constantino