Takealot expects Black Friday sales to rise by about 80% to R352-million this year. The online retail group sees the last Friday of November as a key driver and measure of its growth in South Africa.
Takealot was the first retailer (although Shoprite also makes this claim) to launch Black Friday in the country in 2011. Back then, online retail was still a fledgling market and the e-retailer was looking for a way to get people to seriously consider buying something online.
Founder and CEO Kim Reid acknowledges, however, that as much as the group depends on Black Friday, things have not gone to plan for almost every year it has held the sales promotion because, for some or other reason, customers have struggled to transact through the site on the day.
The reasons for this are varied. On one occasion, software meant to halt a denial-of-service attack brought the site to knees when it kicked in after mistaking the sharp rise in transactions as an attack.
Even so, Reid says Takealot will once again do its best. Its engineering staff will be at work from 10pm the night before to 4am the next morning. The company has also increased the number of people in its call centre.
As part of its preparations, it has installed an automated sorting system that can distribute up to 14 000 parcels an hour at its 43 000m² warehouse in Kempton Park. This will enable it to service the more than two million deliveries expected this shopping season.
Despite all the preparation, Reid concedes that there might be things beyond its control that could affect it, such as the inability of the county’s payment system to cope with the steep increase in card transactions.
To ensure everything runs like clockwork on its side, Reid says Takealot has broken down all the processes regarding the buying, transporting, storing and selling of its 3.7 million products into as many steps as it can. This way the group can figure out how to constantly improve its performance.
Getting the process right will go a long way to ensuring that Takealot attracts and keeps new customers. Last Black Friday it managed to attract about 15 000 new customers.
Reid says the group realistically only has one chance to ensure that when prospective new customers come to the site they have have a problem-free experience. If they don’t, there is a good chance they will not come back again.
“Internet consumers are particularly unforgiving.”
- This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission