With Black Friday and Cyber Monday almost upon us, retailers are about to experience one of the busiest national sales events of the year. In the UK alone, more than £1.4bn was spent on Black Friday sales in 2017, a figure up 11.7% on the previous year.
As thousands of shoppers prepare to hit the high street stores and flock online to find the best deals in the lead up to Christmas – each year, retailers seem unable to cope with the onslaught of customers, despite taking different approaches to avoid the issues seen in previous years.
As with many industries, the retail sector relies heavily on technology - whether that is supply chain operations or online commerce - businesses must use IT effectively in order to cope with the expectations of today’s demanding customers.
Retail technology lagging behind
However, there is a concern that some retailers will be left lagging behind because their ecommerce capabilities struggle to effectively deal with the peaks in online traffic.
New research carried out by Cogeco Peer 1 in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, revealed that an overwhelming majority (87%) of UK retailers are not running optimum IT systems, with 77% stating their current IT vendor could be more agile. A further 86% also revealed that their most prominent IT vendor could improve its service.
It is clear that technology is key to helping businesses in every sector and specialism grow, with agility and flexibility being key to this, particularly within retail during peak shopping periods. However, it appears retailers feel their IT is restricting and compromising business performance.
Getting it right
Retailers should seek the right partners and services which enable them to scale up and down when demand reaches a plateau, for example in post-sales periods. IT service providers have an opportunity to enable greater agility and flexibility to those in the retail sector, particularly as essential processes such as online sales, stock control, and promotions are demanding more of IT infrastructure.
Nationwide sales events, such as the chaos of Black Friday weekend, are a key example of why retailers need properly scalable solutions that can allow them to focus on what they do best – serving their customers, rather than being bogged down in system requirements.
With so many online retailers to compete with, managing traffic and site performance is key. Technology should be, and can be, the enabler that drives business success, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday unlocking a huge opportunity for retailers to capitalise on what is expected to be one of the biggest shopping events of the year.
The Powering Potential Study by Cogeco Peer 1 canvassed the opinions of over 150 IT decision makers from across different industries.
Steve Howe is the EMEA VP and GM of Cogeco Peer 1.