The holiday season is upon us, and busy times are ahead for retailers. Holiday retail sales are expected to grow between 4-6% this year, and ecommerce sales are projected to grow up to 14.3%. To prepare for an uptick, retailers are stocking up on employees with stores like Nordstrom planning to hire 20,000 employees for the holidays.
It can be difficult for retailers to maintain the status quo with their systems during this crazy time of year.
Cyber attacks have been a growing concern for retailers over the past decade. In 2013, roughly 40 million Target customers had their credit card information stolen by hackers in the first three weeks of the holiday season. In 2020, 24% of all cyberattacks were targeting retailers.
Alongside cyber threats, retailers must consider the influx of customers that visit their websites during the holidays. A bogged-down website due to system overload can bring a nightmare to life for retailers, leading to abandoned carts and a decrease in customer satisfaction.
To ensure that your business is ready for the holiday season, perform an operational assessment of your system.
An operational assessment measures the readiness of your system to handle the influx of business, strain and cyber risks that come with the holidays. Our operational assessments cover a retailer’s database health, performance, server load and system settings.
Over time, database indexes can become a tangled mess. Envision a filing cabinet with alphabetical drawers starting from the top down. Inside each of those drawers is a set of organized files with the corresponding papers inside. If a file meant for the drawer labeled “A” got placed in drawer “F” it would take you forever to find the information you need.
The same goes for your database. Indexes point a query to where they need to go to find specific information. But if the database becomes fragmented then the result is a frustratingly slow system for both your team and your customers. Assessing your database health will help identify opportunities for improvement to remove lags from your system before it’s overwhelmed.
We assess the performance of your systems, including your business applications and network connectivity. The goal is to avoid your customers’ experiencing delays that would result in frustration and dissatisfaction.
Server load represents how many processes are waiting for your server for processing. The smaller the number, the better. Whether your system is on-premise or in the cloud, assessing your system’s server load before going into the holidays is paramount in making sure your system can handle the expected uptick in work.
The necessary resources and system capacity for on-premise solutions can be identified through our assessments, and we can assist your business in finding and implementing solutions. Cloud-based solutions, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management, are managed by Microsoft. If your system is sluggish, Columbus can alert and work with Microsoft to implement the necessary solutions to ensure your server is ready for the holidays.
We look at your settings to identify potential openings for cyber attacks. Security risks can come in many forms. Most common during the holidays are attacks that target customer data such as credit card information.
Other security gaps give incorrect personnel access to critical data resulting in theft, fraud or incorrect transaction processing. With an uptick in hiring and cyber threats during the holidays, assessing your system settings for any security gaps is a must.
The Cost of Being Unprepared
Retailers are all too familiar with the consequences of being unprepared when it comes to the holidays and proper hiring, resource planning and execution. Retailers should take that diligence and apply it to making sure their systems are prepared for the holiday season, as well. The risks are too big not to:
- A collapse of systems
- Inability to process orders
- Loss of sales
- Customer dissatisfaction
- Unhappy and unproductive employees
An in-depth assessment of your system and applications can reduce these risks. If systems do go down or you experience slowdowns or other issues, having the proper support structure in place in the form of a trusted Microsoft partner like Columbus can significantly reduce downtime for your business.
Holiday Checklist for Retailers
An operational assessment measures the readiness of your system to handle the influx of business, strain and cyber risks that come with the holidays.
Check four key areas in your review:
- Database health: If your database is a tangled mess – making it hard for your system to find the data it needs to complete a query – your system will be slow for your team and your customers.
- Performance: Review your business applications and network connectivity to ensure your customers won’t experience delays that would drive them to another retailer’s site.
- Server Load: This looks at how many processes are waiting for your server for processing. The smaller, the better. This is key to making sure your system can handle the uptick in work.
- Security Settings: Identify potential openings for cyber attacks, such as users having access to critical data they shouldn’t. Most common are attacks that target customer data, such as credit card information.
Reach out to Columbus to schedule an operational assessment before the holiday season reaches full swing, or if you are experiencing downtime of business critical applications. Our help desk is available for 24/7 support.