Blog · 26 Nov 2019

The retail blind spot that could hold back Christmas profits

Without the right dedicated cloud connectivity, your back office won’t be able to process orders during seasonal peaks — costing you both sales and customer loyalty.

Head of Cloud Connect, BT

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas: they’re fixtures in the retail calendar and probably the busiest times of the year.

If you’re an online retailer, you need to make sure you can process and manage every transaction which means making sure your cloud connectivity is up to the task.

Think beyond the store front

Many retailers focus on the front of their online store, thinking the key issue they’ll experience during seasonal peaks will be whether their bandwidth copes with increased customer traffic. To combat this, organisations typically set up hybrid cloud solutions, with a scalable public cloud to manage increased website traffic, while a private cloud is used to process huge numbers of transactions and orders without impacting website performance.

For this solution to be effective, however, it’s vital that all your administrative functions in the private cloud are accessible via a different connectivity route. Dedicated connectivity is so important because, without a separate pathway, the back office doesn’t have reserved capacity. This means it can end up in competition with customers — creating bottlenecks at the internet gateway and hampering all-important administrative functions like payment processing. It’s only with the right connectivity to both the public and private cloud that retailers can ensure the best possible service for customers, without putting strain on back office functions.

When the internet isn’t enough for your connectivity needs

When it comes to getting your connectivity right, it’s not as straightforward as relying on the internet. In today’s cloud environment, your data and applications are often split between different cloud providers, geographies, and private and public clouds. Increasingly, retailers are finding that the internet is no longer enough to provide the consistent and reliable data exchange necessary for complex cloud solutions. Plus, you need to take into account that cloud providers aren’t compatible with big corporate networks with numerous servers, users and IP addresses.

This is because private cloud solutions are designed to be connected to a single customer data centre, as opposed to an entire network of hundreds of sites, so there are limits on the number of IP address ranges. Once you have an entire network to connect, these limits become a significant challenge. Equally, for smaller organisations, trying to take public cloud services over a private solution means too many IP addresses will be published into the private network — and often edge sites can’t cope with that volume of incoming traffic.

This is where a network partner can help. With a wealth of prior experience, they can assess your bandwidth and routing requirements and put together connectivity that allows your cloud solution to deliver in the ways you need it to. The right connectivity partner not only works with cloud providers on a daily basis, but is also able to resolve problems quickly and create a connectivity solution that gives seamless public and private cloud access, no matter the size of your organisation. 

Top five tips for cloud connectivity

So how do you make sure you stay connected throughout the seasonal chaos? Here are the five key questions you need to ask in the run up to retail’s busiest season:

  1. Are you giving customers the best experience possible?

Changes in your user base can impact your customer journey, so it’s a good idea to reconfirm the pathway your data takes from a customer’s initial selection right through to purchase. If this journey isn’t optimal, or includes glitches or delays, customers will be left frustrated.

  1. Is your business critical traffic separated from your other traffic?

If you don’t single out business critical traffic, you run the risk of it not getting through and that costs your organisation by preventing sales. The impact on operations can also be significant during busy periods if you don’t segment network traffic, so it’s a vital part of your readiness preparation. 

  1. What re-routing options do you have in place?

Alternative routing pathways help to manage influxes of traffic that occur during promotional events — so all potential customers experience the same high-level of site performance.

  1. Are your systems in sync with your marketing team?

Working closely with the marketing department is especially important when there are offers or sales. The bigger the promotion, the more traffic surges and spikes you’ll see across the relevant areas of your site. Being prepared is the best way to manage these effectively and ensure an optimal customer journey.

  1. How long are your data paths?

The best way to ensure latency is to minimise the distance your data travels with optimal application and connectivity locations. That’s why a network partner with regional cloud connectivity is such an important aspect of providing a seamless user experience.

Choose the right partner to connect with

Many retailers turn to a partner who can make sure connectivity to the cloud is designed, implemented and supported as part of their existing infrastructure. This not only means greater consistency with existing network practice, but also ensures a secure, reliable cloud service.

Take a look at our dedicated Cloud Connect page for further information and to discover more about our new cloud connections in both Brazil and South Africa. 

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