Black Friday on the Distribution Side

black friday limited time only

Black Friday has come and gone. Not for the first time, I am struck by the differences between working in distribution and frontline retail.

Chatting with one of my vendor contacts on Friday, I reflected that Black Friday was a quiet day for me. The only emails I received on Black Friday — both of them — were from B2B dealers, for whom it’s also just another Friday.

I did all my hard work in the weeks before. Everything from executing marketing programs with my retail partners to, and this is the most important one, reminding my inventory managers to order up a week earlier than usual. There’s an aphorism I learned from a friend who retired from the military after 30 years, and it’s applicable to the business world. It states, “Amateurs are obsessed with hardware, professionals are obsessed with logistics.” In my world, the two highest volume shipping periods every year are pre-launch for the new iPhone, and the weeks before Black Friday.

It’s been an ongoing project going back several years to remind my retailers of that. In fact, it probably counts as an annual tradition. I remind them every year to order up at least a week earlier than usual. Two weeks would be ideal. The reason is simple: If every retailer in the country placed their Black Friday orders on the Tuesday, that week, we’d be doomed. Getting every order picked, packed and shipped in time would be impossible.

I know this for a fact, because I’ve seen it happen in years past. It may not have been every retailer in the country ordering for Black Friday on the Tuesday before, but it sure felt like it.

No one likes disappointing people, and nobody likes hurt feelings. So it’s better to be proactive. I tell my retail partners what to do, and what will probably happen if they don’t do it.

This year they all listened, which makes my life easier. Any day where I’m not being yelled at over the phone about late deliveries is a good day.

Now with Black Friday in the rear view mirror, it will be time to keep the wheels of the marketing promos turning and the stock flowing from now until after Boxing Day.