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On Black Friday, there will be a lot more going on than great sales.  Here’s what is happening behind the scenes as retailers prepare for one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Making sure the shelves are stocked

While shoppers are busy looking for deals, Zara has already been busy making sure the latest fashion reaches its Black Friday shoppers in the right amounts at the right time. Adam Mersereau, operations professor in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, developed a decision-support system for distributing merchandise to stores and partnered with fast-fashion retailer Zara to test it.

He also has researched inaccuracies in inventory records – the discrepancy between a store’s computerized inventory and what the store actually has in stock. It turns out that store managers across the retail industry often don’t know what they have on their shelves – which can cost retailers money in lost sales.

“Making sure the shelves are stocked is not just about getting items to the stores,” Mersereau said. “It also requires careful management of operations within the store. For many retailers, operational excellence extends to managing their stock – from their inventory to what’s on their shelves and in their dressing rooms.”

Staffing those dressing rooms is key

Having enough staff to help shoppers in dressing rooms is critical for store performance, said Saravanan Kesavan, associate professor of operations in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Clothes that pile up in dressing rooms are a real problem for retailers who increasingly rely on their customers to perform many tasks independently.

To keep reading, see full story at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

By Allison Adams, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Published November 24, 2014