As you know, there is always a surge in spending (and Web traffic) for retailers during the weeks leading up to the holidays. “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” draw out massive numbers of consumers for pre-holiday sales. And these purchasing spikes can seriously harm a business if its billing infrastructure isn’t able to handle this considerable increase in transaction volume.
As businesses are moving to the cloud for their system infrastructure, and consumers are increasingly purchasing items online, it’s that much more important for companies to make sure they have a billing platform that will support additional workloads without impacting their system uptime. So, how to prepare for these popular peaks?
Aria Systems, a cloud billing/subscription management platform provider, offers the following checklist for businesses to ensure that their cloud-based billing system is adequately prepared for the upcoming holiday season.
Click through for tips to ensure that your cloud-based billing system is adequately prepared for the upcoming holiday season, as identified by Aria Systems.
Having a crisis plan in place is critical to the success of any business, especially when anticipating the impact of popular shopping days such as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” When developing your plan, there are several things to consider that can significantly affect your system uptime. For example, does your billing provider offer an alternative, backup system in the event of an outage? When will they communicate a system roll-over to you? And how will your employees redirect/reroute customers to the backup system in a timely manner? Plan for the worst, and you’ll end up with the best possible outcome: uninterrupted service and sales.
Retailers should also have a communications plan in place that lets everyone in their ecosystem (employees, tax partners, payment partners, etc.) know what is happening, how and when it is happening, what their role is and what their next steps should be in the event of a service interruption. As the billing platform is tightly integrated with so many other critical business applications, it is imperative that any changes to the system be transparent to your customers – they should not experience any errors or delays when their transactions are processed. Without these preventative steps in place, you will have frustrated (and unhappy) customers, who are unlikely to return.
People often travel during the holidays. Don’t be a “buzz kill” and not allow your employees to take the time off. Just know which of your key employees are planning to go away, and make sure you have enough people on hand (and on call) to support the anticipated shopping peaks. Also, ensure all staff members are familiar with “The Plan,” and their supporting roles, in the event of a surge in transactions and subsequent system interruption.
Make sure you know the extent to which your billing platform can scale in terms of database size and processing power, so that there are no service interruptions or delays in your customers’ purchasing cycles during peak times. Get a valid estimate of where your capacity is and know what your options are to quickly expand, in the event of a sharp increase in transaction volume. Also, understand what your cloud provider’s plans are in the event of a spike or – even worse – an outage. You need to know how your billing infrastructure handles transactional volume; it’s critical to the success of any retailer.
In addition to knowing your own system capacity, you should understand the full capabilities and capacity of your cloud-based billing provider. Make sure they are taking the necessary precautions and be aware of the different options that you have during times of potential system interruptions. Think about all your vendors – do they have products that are supporting (and / or integrated with) yours (i.e. payment processors or OEMs)? If so, you need to understand their backup plans as well – what happens if their systems go down but yours doesn’t? If this information isn’t readily available, don’t be shy – ask them.
Purchasing peaks can happen at any time, not just on “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday.” Understanding who your customers are and what they value is key – you need to know your customers and what triggers them to buy your products or services (i.e. new offerings, special deals, holiday promotions, etc.). If you don’t know this, it is likely that you won’t be able to adequately prepare for large volume spikes and your system will potentially experience significant problems. It goes without saying that retailers should plan ahead for these events as best they can. Make sure that all of the necessary checks are in place so that your downtime is minimal.