Imagine that you operate a retail chain with locations throughout the country. Suddenly, a winter storm takes down your network, leaving you unable to run credit card transactions — just as your Black Friday rush is beginning. Your stores are fully stocked and staffed, but most of your customers planned on charging their purchases instead of paying with cash. With no sure way of receiving payment, you have no choice but to turn people away, costing your business millions every hour your network is down.
The lines are continuing to blue between online and physical purchases, with “connected customers” using their mobile devices as online showrooms and more. Whether online or brick-and-mortar, retailers need to make sure they have the right tools in place in order to minimize risk to their bottom line this holiday season.
In 2014, Black Friday was the busiest day of the entire holiday season – with more than 87 million customers having shopped in stores and/or online that day. For November/December 2015, retail sales overall are expected to increase by 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion.
In order to prevent disrupting occurrences such as network outages (in-store) or downtime when web traffic spikes (online), Chalan Aras, VP and GM, Delivery Networks, Citrix, has prepared five technology tips, based on the *NRF’s 2015 Holiday Forecast, to help retailers survive (and thrive!) this holiday season.
*All data pulled from the NRF’s 2015 Holiday Forecast
Preparing for the Holiday Rush
Click through for five technologies that can help retailers prepare for the in-store and online holiday rush, as identified by Chalan Aras, VP and GM, Delivery Networks, Citrix.
Application Delivery Controllers
NRF: According to NRF, an estimated 127 people shopped online on Cyber Monday in 2014. For the 2015 holiday season, online sales are expected to increase between 6 and 8 percent with an expected $105 billion in online sales.
Solution: Application delivery controllers (ADCs) provide load balancers for more advanced app delivery and requirements and increased performance. An ADC secures web applications, while maintaining compliance with security regulations – preventing inadvertent or intentional disclosure of confidential information.
NRF: 25 million holiday shoppers said they would specifically use their mobile device to shop online on Cyber Monday. Additionally, free shipping was ranked as either important or very important to 86 percent of online holiday shoppers in 2014.
Solution: Ensure that applications are 100 percent ready to take on hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of visitors expected to hit the site during this holiday season by investing in pay-as-you-go elasticity technologies so that customers can make purchases from their mobile devices.
NRF: Retailers began providing holiday discounts much earlier in 2014 (including in stores), so consumers didn’t have to wait until Black Friday for really good deals on the gifts and items they wanted. In-store promotions lead to more in-store purchases.
Solution: Software-defined WAN technologies can ensure that retail store systems (POS/card readers) are “always on” so that they never lose a single sale, despite what the weather may bring.
Mobile Point of Sale
NRF: ShopperTrak, which counts foot traffic at malls, reports that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, followed by “Super Saturday” and the Sunday before Christmas.
Solution: With the increase in foot traffic over the holiday months, retailers need reliable retail point-of-sale (POS) systems to help ensure those perusing potential customers become actual purchasers. Incorporating a mobile POS solution (i.e., tablets) into your overall strategy can help keep checkout lines down and shoppers full of holiday cheer instead of jeer.
NRF: Every September as retailers ready their stores for the crowds that typically accompany the holiday season, they also begin preparing behind the scenes by hiring extra staff. These new hires are brought on to run the store, stock new inventories, manage distribution and fulfillment centers and serve as customer service representatives.
Solution: Prepare your staff nationwide by investing in remote meeting and collaboration tools to make sure everyone is ramped up and ready for the busy season ahead.