Cyber Monday – a big push behind modernising the retail industry

Retail has been completely revolutionised by technology, as the shattering of online shopping records year-on-year clearly demonstrates. Many customers no longer want to leave the comfort and convenience of their own homes to get the best deals, forcing retailers to go to them instead especially on Cyber Monday – the bookend to a weekend that starts with Black Friday – which has become one of the biggest online shopping days of the year

This increasing shift in focus from brick and mortar to websites puts additional pressure on IT departments to provide reliable, secure platforms and infrastructure to support this quickly growing piece of retail business. The frenzy of clicking and filling up virtual shopping carts that propels Cyber Monday is an ideal example. In a recent survey conducted by Martec International, more than 90% of retailers identified loss of sales or inability to trade as the biggest business risks in the event of a critical application failure, with loss of customers a related concern.

Imagine the consequences if that failure were to occur on the day during the year when more shoppers turn their focus to their computer screens than any other, a day which continues the momentum of the most intense 30 days or so of the year for retailers. One way for retailers to minimise the risk of collapse during this period is to lean on a managed service provider to deliver the flexibility, scalability and agility that online sales platforms require to manage sudden bursts of activity. Retailers can also employ service providers to provide expert support to prevent downtime or glitches from impacting business revenues.

With the upfront cost of investing in infrastructure to manage sudden bursts of activity on days like Cyber Monday continually rising and becoming more prohibitive and inefficient, many retailers are turning to external organisations to provide the resources and scalability required to cope with peak periods. This approach also enables organisations to role back the infrastructure during quiter shopping periods at other times of the year.

This is supported by the Martec survey, which revealed that retailers are starting to truly understand the value of using cloud-based systems and managed service providers. As many as 94% of retailers surveyed in the UK and Ireland said they were comfortable using cloud-based systems for business-critical applications. And while they may have perceived the outsourcing of applications as risky in the past, retailers are now starting to view it as a good way to manage and minimise IT risk.

The survey also found that 77% of retailers have already outsourced at least one critical business application and, for many, outsourcing has become more popular than internal management for e-commerce systems. With more vendors looking to outsourced options for their solutions, confidence has grown among retailers over their use with the approval rating for outsourced solutions rising to 7.1 out of 10.

The more that retailers outsource, the more they understand the benefits from a resource allocation standpoint, whether for e-commerce, HR, payroll or other systems, as well as minimising risk.

This change in attitude towards embracing outsourcing is also a gauge of how acceptable cloud has become to retailers. Over a third cited risk management as the main reason for adopting cloud, effectively reversing the traditional view that outsourcing was the risk rather than one of the best ways to prevent it. Many retailers are becoming happier to assign the responsibility for managing risk and dealing with potential application failure to a cloud provider. In fact a large percentage of retailers even notes that cost is a major influence in their decision to outsource applications rather than risk, which illustrates just how mainstream it has become for many retailers.

Outsourcing cloud services is increasingly being viewed as an effective way for retailers to gain the benefits of technology without having to make substantial investments in their own infrastructure. As the volume of online sales grows inexorably, and Cyber Monday continues to reign as the biggest online shopping day of the year, retailers best choice to take advantage of shoppers looking for deals from the comfort of their own home is to harness cloud technologies. By embracing cloud, retailers can transform their businesses and meet the demands and challenges of the digital age. It makes sense for retailers to employ the services of cloud providers to meet their IT requirements and allow them to concentrate on their core business. For many, it may become an integral part of how they operate.

Find out more about Minimising IT Risk in Retail