For many people, Black Friday means getting up before sunrise and queuing for most of the day in hope of getting hold of the bargain of the year. For staff working in e-commerce businesses however, it often means working through the night and silently praying the site won’t go down.
Say what you will about the hysteria surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two days in November where retailers and e-tailers offer huge discounts for a limited time only, for many businesses, these are the most important trading days of the year.
For e-tailers this means hours of preparation from creating marketing material, potentially building new landing pages and marking down the appropriate stock. And as the days come closer, the work intensifies, and it’s not uncommon for businesses to have staff working through the night. This can be a very stressful time for employers and employees alike, so here are our top tips for getting through black Friday and Cyber Monday without losing team morale or sales.
Identify who needs to be on hand
You will want to thoroughly plan who needs to be on hand when launching the sale. This will most likely include some members of your tech team to monitor site health and ensure servers are stable. It will probably also mean having some extra hands on customer service to be able to deal with the increase in customer queries. But think beyond the obvious – do you need some merchandise staff to keep the stock looking good when things sell out? Do you need your marketing team to communicate special offers throughout the day (and night if your business is international)? Make a list of who’s needed on the night and communicate to managers.
Set up a workspace for the Black Friday team
If possible it’s a good idea to create a dedicated workspace for the teams who are going to be working through the night. In a larger company your different teams may be far apart and by moving everyone together you’re not only improving team morale, you’re facilitating quick and smooth communication if something were to go wrong. It also helps make employees feel like they are not alone in this and can seek advice and support from others.
If you know you will need people to put in some extra hours you should communicate this to the teams. Assuming people will stay or leaving it to the last minute is bound to cause frustration and friction. Be transparent, express the importance of the situation, and give people plenty of notice.
Make sure to have an incentive for those who will stay late, whether it’s an extra day off the following week or a special treat. During the night make sure there is plenty of food, coffee and snacks to keep energy and momentum up. It might also be a nice idea to have a special something for when the shift is over.
Have senior members of staff around
This is not only a good idea if important decisions need to be made, but hugely important for setting a good role model. If staff see their managers and seniors putting in the hard work they are much less likely to feel like they have drawn the shortest stick working all night.
Define clear responsibilities
Make sure people know what they are expected to do. The last thing you want is people feeling like this was a waste of time so make sure you allocate clear tasks to everyone involved – whether it’s monitoring a certain area of the site, sending promotional emails or picking up the phone to deal with customer queries.
If something goes wrong…
Before the night complete a risk assessment and plan for every occasion so that people know what to do if something were to go wrong. Make sure the senior stakeholders are informed of the plan and able to communicate it on the night.
Whilst everyone is likely to be exhausted after the long night, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate and thank your employees for the hard work. Set a night for the following week, invite the whole company and share the (hopefully) excellent results.