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Small UK businesses are 'underprepared' for Black Friday

BLACK FRIDAY: The American shopping extravaganza has made its way to the UK over the last few years

SMALL BRITISH businesses are underprepared for one of the biggest shopping days in the UK, according to the Royal Mail.

New research from Royal Mail, released on Friday (Sept 4) as part of Small Business Advice Week, revealed that UK small or medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) are not ready for Black Friday – the one-day promotional sales event which originates from the United States and is now the start of Christmas shopping season in the UK.

In 2014, consumers spent £810 million online on Black Friday, according to IMRG, and Royal Mail research has found that 60 per cent of consumers are already preparing to shop online for this year’s event, meaning the UK’s 4.9 million SMEs could take advantage of this major shopping bonanza.

However, new research has revealed that British businesses are not applying all the lessons learnt from last year’s event, and three quarters of small businesses will miss out because they are not planning on taking part.

Last year, the biggest challenges faced by SMEs on Black Friday were: coping with increased website traffic, managing stock, delivering their orders on time or quickly enough and distributing orders from their warehouse.

In addition, less than a third of small businesses struggled to cope with customer enquiries about their orders.

The scale of Black Friday, held on November 27 this year - is evident as it grows in popularity each year.

For Small Business Advice Week, Royal Mail is advising small and medium-sized business to work with their delivery provider to forecast volumes for Black Friday and the Christmas shopping period.

Roger Morris, head of Royal Mail Parcels, gave his advice for small businesses: “My advice to SMEs about Black Friday is really to start thinking about the planning today, and the planning in particular for the logistics and the delivery needs.

"You need to plan to have the item in stock, of course, and your website needs to work; but you need to be able to get it delivered. It’s really about planning and trying to share the information with us so we can make sure we have the capacity in place to make sure that we can deliver your orders for your customers on time.”

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