Preparing Your Team for Working Retail on Black Friday

by Katie Sawyer, 6 minutes read
HOME blog working retail on black friday

This year, shoppers are expected to spend a total of 8.71 billion British pounds over the course of the Black Friday weekend. Which begs the question, what are you doing to prepare your store for the rush this year?

With Black Friday almost upon us, here are some key tips for retailers to keep in mind.

Schedule fairly leading up to Black Friday

The holiday season is hectic and if you hastily throw together schedules, you can be sure your team will burn out. Instead, set your schedule in advance and ensure everyone gets days and hours throughout the week leading up to the big event.

If you need the expertise of certain employees, create training tags to ensure you have the right people scheduled at the right time. And don’t forget to build in rest breaks. You should set up guardrails around employee preferences and agreed days/times of working. That transparency will help keep employees happy while still meeting demand

Ensure there's adequate staffing

Speaking of demand — are there enough people on your squad to manage Black Friday? If not, then you'll struggle to manage a busy store from open to close. Consider hiring additional staff if your schedule seems overbearing for your current team.

It's one day out of the year, so consider bringing on more people to cover all the bases (just in case). If someone is sick, enable them to swap shifts with a qualified employee to ensure all shifts are covered.

You can opt for seasonal staff members or use a staffing agency to find temporary retail workers. The more people you have on hand, the better for getting customers through the door quickly.

Clearly communicate expectations

How should employees handle call-outs over Black Friday (and before)? What's the policy for employees working overtime? And what will the pay rate be? These are questions you need to answer in advance.

This way, your employees know what to expect (and what's expected of them). Make sure to also assign areas of the store each associate will cover on Black Friday. This will ensure customers have access to help wherever they are. Plus, your workers can keep their areas organized as crowds mull through.

Prepare your inventory

Stockouts and Black Friday are synonymous. However, you still want to ensure you have enough on hand to entice shoppers to come. They already expect supplies to go quickly, which is key to getting more foot traffic to your retail shop.

So order your supplies well in advance. Manufacturers and suppliers will see an influx in orders right before the big day, which will lead to slow production and shipping (or even stockouts).

Create backup plans (for everything possible)

Is it possible to have a backup plan for every scenario? Probably not. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. If this isn't your first Black Friday rodeo, then you may know potential situations you may run into.

Some ordeals may include sick employees, servers crashing, customer disputes, and selling out of items. Have a plan for these issues and other issues that may arise (and share them with your retail workers).

Spread out your products

There are strategic ways to set up your store to prevent overcrowding in certain sections. For instance, you can make your lanes wider so more people can fit down the aisles. This is ideal for products you know will attract a lot of attention.

Then if you have a limited supply of a particular product, consider placing them behind the counter, so people don't fight over them. This and other design hacks can improve crowd control and eliminate altercations.

What to do on Black Friday

Black Friday is here, and your retail employees are ready to take on the crowds. Having a workplace prepped for Black Friday will reduce stress and hiccups along the way. Here's a look at some of the tips to prepare you for the big day.

Train your retail workers on crowd control

The crowds are coming — is your team ready? If you trained them well, then they should have a good handle on dealing with different situations. For example, a large group of people trying to get into the store at once.

There should already be plans in place to have a separate path for the entrance and exit. This goes hand-in-hand with crowd control. Have a clear path for shoppers to leave the building without having to fight their way through crowds of angry customers. It would probably be best to set up this area before Black Friday begins.

You can even set up a queue line to guide the crowd through the entrance of the store. This can prevent folks from trampling over one another and causing damage or harm.

Make sure your team knows what to do in the event of a fight or altercation. You don't want anyone getting hurt, so know when to escalate the situation.

Tell them what's going on

Your staff needs to do more than show up on Black Friday. They need to be able to answer questions customers may have about specific deals and promotions. Make sure to prepare them by training them about which products will be on sale and what the promotion entails.

Go over various sales prices, bundled deals, and other promotions so everyone can answer with confidence. It's also ideal to train your staff on the locations of these deals, so they can point shoppers in the right direction.

Odds are, you'll have a handful of deals most people will be curious about.

Also, share deals with your cashiers so they're in the loop.

Show your team appreciation

Black Friday is a stressful time for retail workers. But without them, your retail store couldn't manage the holiday surge. So management should show appreciation to make workers feel valued.

The last thing you need is for employees to walk off amid Black Friday, or not even show up. Train managers on dealing with stressful moments to ensure communication is always open and respectful towards employees.

You can show your appreciation to employees by giving gifts or bonuses. Your outreach doesn't have to be anything major — personalized coffee mugs, pens, stickers, and keychains can show you care.

What to do after Black Friday

It's Saturday and your retail team made it through the madness of Black Friday. But it's not over yet. There are still a lot to cover off over the next few days.

Increased product returns

After Black Friday ends, people are home testing their newly purchased items. Some will love them. Others...not so much. And because of that, you can expect higher than usual returns.

Make sure you're prepared for this increase in returns by keeping extra money on hand to cover the transactions. Also, have managers on staff to handle complex returns your team may not have the authorization (or knowledge) to perform.

Additional sales on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is just around the corner. Many companies offer special discounts on products purchased on Cyber Monday. So now is the perfect time to start planning for these promotions. During your planning, determine whether you'll allow customers to come in-store to purchase goods at discounted rates found on your website.

If you decide to, make sure to train your staff to properly process orders from online purchases. You don't want any confusion during peak hours.

Moving past the holiday season

Now that Black Friday has passed, it's time to look forward to the rest of the year. If you hired seasonal workers, prepare to wean them off your schedule as the crowds slow down. You can also bring a few onboard part-time or full-time.

Extend your deals

Black Friday is one of the busiest holiday shopping days of the year for retailers. But why let the revenue end there? You can extend your deals past Black Friday or even make them available online.

Doing this is a pleasant surprise for your shoppers. Plus, it can prevent having an overstock of non-promotional items that didn't sell as well as you thought it would.

After all, the point of your retail store is to boost sales. If you can do that while cutting down long lines, even better!

It's time to plan your next Black Friday sale

The answer to a smooth Black Friday event? Organization. The better you prep your store and retail workers, the easier it'll be for everyone. Even your customers will enjoy their in-store experience.

So begin pre-planning your deals, store's layout, employee schedule, and deals.

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