Part 2: Prepping for the Holidays with Avocado Mattress CFO, Dennis Yip

We chatted with Dennis Yip, CFO of Avocado Green Brands, on the importance of planning ahead for Black Friday / Cyber Monday and who to collaborate with to ensure a successful holiday season.

Two people sit on a mattress.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What types of businesses have you worked with or if comfortable, where are you working right now and what types of products does the business make? How many Black Friday/Cyber Monday holidays have you been through?

I am the CFO of Avocado Green Brands and have led finance teams in the home furnishings, consumer technology, and medical devices industries. Avocado organic mattresses are crafted in California, using the finest GOTS & GOLS certified organic materials that are also certified to MADE SAFE® standards. Our natural materials are sourced from the best domestic and international sources, including our GOTS Certified Organic Farms in India and Guatemala. Avocado's mission is to be the most respected source for organic mattresses, pillows, and bedding at affordable prices — while maintaining environmentally conscious, ethical, and sustainable business practices. We are a "Best for the World" Certified B Corporation, Climate Neutral and Fair Trade® certified, and the Pinnacle Award Winner from 1% for the Planet®. Fast Company® lists Avocado as a "Brand that Matters." Including 2023, I will have been part of seven Black Friday/Cyber Monday holidays.

How important is BF/CM to your business? How does it differ from other holidays in your retail calendar? Any variability by industry?

There is seasonality in the home furnishings and mattress industries. The five major holidays of Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Black Friday/Cyber Monday generate the largest amount of sales in the industry. Black Friday/Cyber Monday is generally a major holiday for most consumer industries. In the mobile accessories industry, the iPhone launch date is the biggest event of the year since consumers will purchase new accessories, such as mobile cases and screen protectors, when they purchase a new iPhone.

How far out do you typically start planning for BF/CM?

Avocado will adjust planning for Black Friday/Cyber Monday about a quarter in advance.

What types of challenges tend to come up across the business during this important planning cycle?

There has been a lot of economic volatility in the industry over the last few years both from potential consumer demand as well as from supply chain dislocation. Having access to flexible and supportive working capital financing, from a lender such as Ampla, can help a company build additional inventory and some safety stock if actual sales come in below forecasted demand.

What other departments and leaders do you collaborate with for the planning cycle? Who is a must-have collaborator during the process?

It’s important for the planning cycle to be cross-functional to determine the required inventory on-hand and consumption levels, production scheduling and required raw materials purchases. Operations teams, including Supply Chain and Purchasing, Commercial teams, including Sales and Marketing, and Finance should all be part of the process.

What's the most surprising/unexpected thing that's ever happened to you or the brand during the actual BF/CM sales promotion?

What is surprising to me is that companies will run a promotion for a period of time and not for just one day but a lot of consumers will wait until the actual day of the holiday to purchase even though the promotion is the same before and after that particular day.

If you could give a piece of advice to other operators prepping for their first holiday sale, what would it be?

Plan for a successful, profitable year without Black Friday / Cyber Monday and treat that holiday as a bonus.

Mike Grillo

Michael (Mike) Grillo is an advertising and marketing industry veteran who currently serves as VP of Marketing at Ampla. Prior to Ampla, Mike was the Head of Consumer Products and Retail at Calm, the #1 App for Meditation and Sleep and co-founder and CEO of Gravity Products, home to the world-famous Gravity Blanket. Under Mike's leadership, Gravity was named one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions (2018) and Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Brilliant Companies. The brand was ultimately acquired by WIN Brands Group in 2021. Mike is an angel investor and advisor to several NYC-based start-ups, including Ampla Technologies.

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