Black Friday and Cyber Monday: How Companies Master the Onslaught

Paul Griffiths

The busiest shopping days of the year are here. Black Friday and Cyber Monday see both brick-and-mortar and online outlets running special limited-time promotions to attract festive holiday shoppers. Last year, more UK retailers ran Black Friday promotions than ever before, but some were unprepared for high levels of demand. Retailers encountered application performance problems that their IT departments could not diagnose and resolve quickly, and their sales suffered severely as a result.

The IT issues also show themselves in the brick-and-mortar shops too. With more technology being used in-store to improve customer experience—from displays which provide dynamic messaging to beacons tracking shoppers’ movement throughout the store—this digital transformation is putting added pressure on IT departments in the run up to Black Friday.

When demand for a reliable, time-effective experience is not met, shoppers feel frustrated, which results in negative effects on retailers’ brand trust, reputation and bottom line. Nowadays, a slow and unresponsive website is almost as damaging to a brand as a website that is down. Retailers therefore need to adopt a holistic approach to improving customer experience. Particularly during the festive holiday season, business critical applications need to be available and responsive, providing end-to-end visibility, regardless of where and when they are being accessed. Speed, reliability and ease of use are major priorities for shoppers.

Website failures are often a result of a number of network performance issues, such as poor change management, denial of service attacks, or simply lack of capacity on the hosting platform. If a company doesn’t have the monitoring and diagnostics systems in place to detect where the issues lie, it can take much longer to resolve and have the website back online as normal.

This is why retail IT teams need a solution that increases agility and optimises resiliency. Technology that allows them to quickly detect, analyse, and resolve any network and application performance problems due to record levels of traffic before it could impact business revenue is paramount. This is especially important for companies with a hybrid IT infrastructure—whereby applications are deployed in multiple data centres and accessed from various locations, increasing the complications around performance management.

Similarly, to prepare physical stores for Black Friday, retail CIOs need the agility to quickly deploy additional capacity at the checkout as well as new services and applications. They need resiliency that helps them take any disruptions in their stride and keeping the length of queues to a minimum. Achieving all of these goals help the team to deliver an excellent overall experience to customers, that will keep them coming back for more, long after Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over.

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