The glitch that stole Christmas
As the Christmas season rapidly approaches, too many retailers are holding their breath in anticipation of what will hopefully be a smooth and profitable ride through the Silly Season.
However, the reality for many is that as shoppers swarm to their websites and storefronts, increased demand on networks means they run the risk of outages, diminishing the customer experience and halting both short-term profit and long-term goodwill.
Combine this with Amazon’s recent arrival in the Australian market and many local retailers are considering how they can get one-up on their competition. Many businesses are already increasing their presence both online and in-store through deploying richer experiences for customers, an acknowledgement that in the modern, data-driven world, technology is a key investment in gaining a competitive edge.
Online retail in Australia is estimated to be a $20 billion-dollar industry, with a growth rate of 13.5 per cent, aided by rapid growth in internet and broadband penetration and an increasing population of smartphone users who trust shopping online more than before.
But adding new ‘high-tech’ features to your website could potentially do more harm than good if you’re not ensuring your networks are up to scratch to deal with the extra demand placed on your networks.
If a customer is unable to access a store’s apps or website due to poor network capacity, or lack of IT resource, they have a wide variety of other retail outlets readily available and the power of social media to spread the word.
In a 24/7 constantly connected world – retailers can’t afford to have a site down for a day, an hour or even a minute as it means losing potential revenue to competitors.
Some of the world’s biggest retail stores, Ted Baker and Calvin Klein for example, fell flat on delivering a great experience during the recent Black Friday shopping extravaganza, undoubtedly hurting their sales figures and brand reputation.
So what can we learn from their mistakes? Most importantly, we need to understand stability to our networks is crucial. And more importantly, we need to act upon it.
In order to maximise profits and maintain a competitive edge, retailers must provide the best possible online experience for shoppers. In the world of online retail, this means dynamic control of network capacity to cope with increased demand, and updated security systems to defend against denial of service attacks.
Technologies such as monitoring services and network optimisation solutions can help retailers and their IT teams stay ahead of failures that might be caused by extra demands on their websites, apps or in- store activity.
For example, the adoption of technology such as SD-WAN can help connect branches and franchises over large geographic distances and ensure someone shopping in Sydney has the same experience as someone shopping in Perth.
Having the right technology at your disposal enables rapid, pro-active detection and resolution of performance issues due to increased traffic long before revenue and reputation are adversely affected.
Success in meeting these challenges will mean stores are equip to deliver a high quality experience, earning them customer loyalty long after the hectic hours of Christmas or Boxing Day shopping.
Keith Buckley is vice president of Riverbed Technology in Australia, New Zealand.