After a satisfying day of turkey, family, friends and football, another holiday tradition starts the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. In 2017, almost 98 million people braved the crowds to shop on Black Friday – which starts on Thanksgiving evening for some retailers.
The first holiday shopping weekend last year ended on Cyber Monday with a record $6.59 billion in digital transactions, which is a 16.8 percent increase over 2016, according to Adobe Insights.
While most of us look at these numbers and imagine clothing, bicycles, toys and electronics, retail IT leaders look at an overwhelming volume of data that must be processed to make sure that shoppers receive exactly what they ordered in the timeframe they requested.
Because the retail supply chain is complex and always changing and expanding, the IT infrastructure required to support a steadily increasing number of online and mobile customers, business partners, logistics providers and suppliers is also complex.
Let’s face it, Cyber Monday may represent a huge number of transactions, but the reality is that e-commerce continues to grow throughout the year. Not only does this mean more orders to process, but the logistics of delivering those orders is more complex as customers expect one or two-day delivery, or in some cases, same-day delivery. This leads to more logistics partners who must be onboarded quickly and easily.
For this reason, retailers need to look at preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday volumes by taking steps throughout the year to remain sane.
- Use analytics to identify weaknesses in your infrastructure and fix them throughout the year
- Test your systems as you approach October and November to make final tweaks
- Evaluate performance after December to identify problem areas
- Investigate options to increase capabilities to handle increased volume in both the database and application tier
Luckily, there are several strategies and technologies for which IT pros can be thankful for this season:
- Data integration services that can seamlessly connect systems, with emphasis on B2B and EDI
- Data management services that include GDSN compliance services
- PCI compliant platforms that offer tokenization services that remove the PCI compliance burden from the retailer
- Mapping services that transform data into native formats required by disparate, legacy systems
- Scalable services that can expand and grow with the retailer’s needs
- Managed services programs that allow in-house staff to focus on critical day-to-day issues while the outsourced provider maintains the integration and data management infrastructure
The November and December shopping season is critical to retailers. Thankfully, sanity can prevail if the right steps are taken and the right partners are selected for data integration and management tasks. After all, the growth of e-commerce makes retailers more reliant on IT integration and data management throughout the year to keep orders flowing, trucks moving and customers delighted.
Is your retail organization poised to handle increasing IT demands for this holiday season and years to come?