A recent IMRG study found the internet is expected to account for 27% of sales for multi-channel retailers during the last quarter of this year. eCommerce has been growing very strongly for more than 10 years, and mobile commerce have added even more impetus to this trend. Last year, Forrester predicted that European online retail sales will grow 11% a year up to 2017. The pace of growth will be fastest, at 18% per year, in southern European countries like Italy and Spain. eCommerce system performance will therefore be a significant source of revenue generation and an especially important area for retailers’ attention as the year draws to a close this year.
But how can we really prepare for this onslaught of consumers? Solution providers and value-added resellers (VARs) in EMEA need to turn to the most effective solutions to help their retail clients optimise eCommerce systems for this end-of-year increase in demand.
The busiest day overall in terms of internet purchasing is predicted to be the first Monday in December, although the peak day does vary by retailer. Some department store chains in Europe are predicting the busiest day in the run up to Christmas will be ‘Cyber Sunday’, when shoppers, armed with one of the final pay packets of the year, will hit the Internet to buy most of their presents.
Solution providers and VARs are in an excellent position to contribute to trouble free online ordering, transaction processing and logistics for their retail clients. These following practical steps are designed to help partners address their retail clients’ business challenges, such as eCommerce system slowdowns and failures:
- Sort recurring website ‘issues’ now, don’t wait – Partners should work with their retail clients to baseline eCommerce sites before the holiday season begins, helping retailers immediately recognise if something abnormal occurs to the website functionality during the holiday season. Also, auditing sites allows partners and retailers to identify small and recurring errors that could multiply during times of heavy site traffic. Remediating these seemingly small problems before the holiday season, such as simply reducing errors written to logs, can significantly improve site performance during critical periods.
- Assess sites to reduce risk – Partners should also carefully review retailers’ local and edge caching strategies, which often have not been updated since their sites went live. Any adjustments made should be tested to reduce the risk of a poorly performing site. Additionally, partners should examine retailers’ sites holistically. An assessment of items such as infrastructure stability, bandwidth usage, network backups and other back-end systems can help identify areas that could have a negative impact under increased holiday transactional loads.
- Improve the omnichannel experience – In this digitally savvy world, customers now expect easy access to eCommerce sites through any device. Partners can work with retailers to incorporate solutions such as responsive web design (RWD), into retailers’ sites. This allows retailers to build one set of source code that can be adapted to any new device – smartphones, tablets, desktop browsers, etc.
- Proactive site management leads to early detection of issues – Partners should also ensure that their retail clients have quantitative and qualitative tools to help IT support teams proactively manage the site during heavy loads. Actively monitoring user experiences can help retailers rapidly pinpoint issues, such as long-running pages and bad promotion codes, as they arise, reducing their impact to improve the customer experience during the e-Christmas rush.
- Support for the support teams – As trusted advisors, partners should also discuss customer support team communication strategies with retailers. Customer support teams are often not as familiar with eCommerce sites as they need to be. By making time before the holiday season to gauge the support team’s confidence, retailers can help ensure support teams have 100% proficiency navigating and working on eCommerce sites. If needed, partners and retailers can create refresher training programmes to review overall operations, with an emphasis on explaining changes that have occurred since the previous year’s holiday season.
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