Tech performance isn’t the only challenge for online retail


In December 2015 UK retailers experienced an 8.2% increase in online sales compared to that of December 2014.

This rise equates to £44.8 billion being spent in December 2015 alone.

It is no wonder then, with retail events such as Black-Friday and Cyber Monday taking place in the run up to Christmas, that this time of year has become known as the ‘golden quarter’.

Online spending is a key part of the golden quarter, with flash sales, online exclusives and free delivery encouraging customers to spend around the clock from the comfort of their own homes.

Customers are increasingly savvy about the best deals on offer and speedily take advantage of the lower prices.

>See also: Internet of Things: a retail perspective

Retailers are quick to exploit this targeted, burstable demand, yet every year some are caught out and lose revenue when their websites cannot cope with the increase in traffic and consequently crash.

If customers can preemptively recognise great opportunities, why can’t retailers be equally prepared for the upsurge in demand?

But this is not just a tech issue – a lack of communication across departments is causing retailers to trip-up over the same problems year-on-year.

An integrated approach is needed if businesses are to succeed in this year’s golden quarter.

Cloud technology

With other retailers only a click away, businesses cannot risk deterring customers due to sloppy infrastructure.

It is essential that all websites are not only mobile-optimised, but are also designed with an infrastructure able to cope with peaks in demand.

Cloud technology solutions have been widely adopted by retail business.

They offer the scalability to add capacity at times of peak web traffic, crucial when building a resilient website.

>See also: The rise, or fall of the retail app?

But this technology is not new; it has been around for a number of years, yet each year big-name retailers make the headlines for website issues during this season.

The conclusion to this can only be that technology performance simply is not the problem, so what is?

The importance of cloud culture

Retail professionals are experts in identifying business trends and patterns in consumer behaviour; they know what increases to expect and the areas of the website that will be most attractive and draw the most traffic.

They also identify where the sale items should be located to drive maximum attention and they understand and interpret customer feedback to deliver a tailored customer service.

But retail professionals are not experts in network speeds and compute variations, nor are they versed in coding or calculating capacity requirements.

They don’t know the intricacies of the IT infrastructure or how to monitor and modify websites based on user bursts. The IT professionals do – this is what they are good at.

The divide between business leaders and IT teams must be broken down in order to mend a fragmented framework that leaves departments working as separate entities.

>See also: Why e-commerce won’t kill brick-and-mortar retail

By changing the way businesses manage their operations and by bringing the teams together, expertise can be woven together to build a resilient online presence that is protected against sudden downtime whilst also maximising profitability margins.

This collaboration is what Six Degrees Group is calling ‘cloud culture’.

The technology is there – cloud computing can do the heavy lifting.

The real challenge this year will be bringing departments together, to communicate and collaborate so that all aspects of consumer demands are understood, enabling organisations to reap the rewards of a successful golden quarter.


Sourced by Campbell Williams, group strategy and marketing director, Six Degrees Group

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...