How Retail Organizations Can Prepare for an Irregular Holiday Shopping Season

We all knew that the holiday season would look different this year. With the global health crisis changing the cadence of online shopping, the shopping season itself has also shifted by going almost exclusively online and starting much earlier than normal. It is then projected to have an extended pause during the holidays themselves before picking back up far later than usual. To succeed this holiday season, retail organizations need to adapt by preparing for this irregular and prolonged increase in online traffic.

Companies that had difficulty keeping up with the surge in web traffic at the beginning of the pandemic may have found short-term fixes for the issues they encountered, but are they ready for new and heightened challenges that the holiday season brings? Organizations must now think about the IT infrastructure they need to stay on the “nice” side of customers’ lists this holiday season.

Build a Strong Backup and Redundancy Plan

A strong backup plan can ensure business continuity for organizations in the event of an emergency, such as a bad snowstorm that knocks out power, a cyberattack, or employee error. It is also vital to have redundancy built into a successful disaster recovery plan.

This is especially true for the holiday season when organizations need to guarantee the protection and management of data in case their infrastructure is overloaded from an influx of online users. To keep data safe in all circumstances, it is considered best practice to combine both local and cloud backup by following the 3-2-1 rule:

  • Create 3 copies of your data, one primary copy and two backups
  • Store your copies in at least 2 types of storage media such as local drive, network, share/NAS, or tape drive
  • Store 1 copy offsite (minimum)

Organizations should consult their hosting provider to discuss the best strategy for backup. The 3-2-1 plan is a good starting point, but your hosting provider will have a better idea of what the strongest way is forward for your company.

Scale Your Infrastructure Based on Anticipated Traffic

You’ve made your backup list and checked it twice – now you need to guarantee that your organization can handle incoming traffic. Lagging websites from an overburdened server can leave any retail organization in the bad graces of their users. According to research issued by Google, web pages that take longer than three seconds to load can lose around 53% of mobile users. Shoppers are looking to buy their perfect gift quickly – the longer the wait time, the more likely a consumer will leave.

Organizations can prepare by examining their traffic patterns from previous holiday seasons as well as patterns observed during the onset of the pandemic. This will help to project expected demands and determine the infrastructure necessary to meet them. A dedicated server is a sound investment for retailers who know how much traffic increase they can expect, as they provide command and control, technical support, and private networking for retail organizations at the highest level of performance.

If traffic has fluctuated in years past and the uncertainty of this season is leaving your team in the dark, there is an alternative to dedicated servers to make you (and your customers) happy.

Rely on the Flexibility of Hybrid Cloud

With IT spending under scrutiny in the midst of our current economic climate, retailers need a solution that provides flexibility and capacity in the most cost-effective way possible. Hybrid cloud can be a key tool for retailers in a heightened and irregular holiday shopping season.

Hybrid cloud allows retailers to utilize a public cloud for development, one-off workloads, and big data platforms combined with an IaaS provider (Santa prefers Leaseweb) for business-critical applications and associated data for specific production environments. With the flexibility to move between the two, organizations can meet demand and gain insight from their data without breaking budget or operations.

As Santa and his elves prepare for the big night, it is important to reflect on how your retail organization can be better positioned to meet holiday web traffic demands. With a strong backup and redundancy plan, infrastructure to scale, and hybrid cloud, your IT team can be reassured that your company will not only survive but thrive in this interesting holiday season.

Want to learn more about how your retail organization can stay on the nice list all year long? Click here to contact our sales team to see how we can help.