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6 Tips For Getting Your Infrastructure Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday

In the lead up to the holidays, notorious Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals lure customers from all over the globe to big-name brands, in order to snag the best savings on their purchases for the festive period. For many customers, there is little appeal for standing in line in front of a store or jostling with another bargain hunter for the latest-and-greatest piece of tech. More and more customers are now turning to online purchasing in order to grab the best bargain, creating a landscape of smarter and more efficient purchasing which is steadily on the rise. Timico’s client Ted Baker saw revenue increase by 7.3% for the 13-week period to 11 November. This was driven by a 30.5% increase in online sales, meaning e-commerce now accounts for one in five purchases.

This customer dependency on digital retail is growing stronger each year, with online spending alone expected to reach £1.15 billion this year – up 15% on 2016. With consumers becoming more reliant on the convenience of online shopping, it is a priority for retailers to be able to keep up with this demand. In order to do so, businesses need to be equipped with sturdy networks, reliable connectivity, and secure infrastructures to cater to consumer needs in the online realm.

It is predicted that shoppers will spend 15% more online during the Black Friday period this year than last according to forecasts by internet trade body IMRG, and so there is significant financial potential in this year’s busiest commercial season. Consequently, businesses could suffer disastrous financial and reputational loses if their online presence fails to deliver over the busy peak period. Taking action to prepare for the potential influx of customers, and ensuring your network infrastructure is sturdy enough for this peak season, is key for retailers.

Timico’s advice to prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

1. Stay Flexible with Bandwidth

Make sure your network provider can accommodate for an influx of web traffic. Only having a limited amount of bandwidth will not be beneficial for your business when a large amount of customer’s attempt to enter your site at the same time, and can be costly if your site crashes as a result. Did you know, the first 10 seconds of a page visit are critical for users’ decision to stay or leave the web page? If a customer visits and is unable to access your website, they are likely to leave. If you ensure that your connectivity solution has guaranteed uncontended bandwidth and high serviceability, this can be avoided, and shoppers can visit your site uninterrupted.

2. Prepare your Cyber Security

Did you know, Black Friday makes retailers a prime target for cyber-attacks? Attackers are aware that retailers will experience a large influx of traffic, and know that this period of time is crucial to the financial welfare of businesses. This makes the peak retail period extremely vulnerable to threats. In a recent study, Timico found that 85% of companies targeted by ransomware said their systems were down for a week or more, causing £1,000s in financial damage a day. If your business is struck during the busiest periods of the year, it is inevitable you will experience huge financial loses. To avoid this, become familiar with your entire network infrastructure, and ensure that you have a sensible path-management process – consistent with your businesses years of different infrastructure leadership, or changes to your network architecture.

Orchestrated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are also a risk during peak traffic periods, with attackers looking to bombard a business with so much traffic that their online presence is overwhelmed and crashes. The frequency of large attacks continues to rise, and organisations should take an integrated, multi-layered approach to protection. Check out Timico’s blog; “The Benefits of Network Visibility” to learn how you can gain visibility over the crucial aspect of all your business functions and applications, in order to recognise an attack quickly. Additionally, teach your employees to recognise the signs of a cyber-attack. From email phishing to using an unsafe USB, the people who handle your online business need to be cyber-smart. Arrange an educational session to brief employees on security. These do not need to be time consuming, and can be simple as a quick 15-minute brief in order to not disrupt the working day.

3. Reach for the Cloud

Protect your existing online environment by implementing a cloud solution. This can provide a scalable and flexible data storage facility, which can manage the increased demand of web traffic and data to your servers. Ideally, your network provider should be able to scale this cloud solution to suit your business requirements, and should easily expand for peak seasons. Additionally, cloud solutions can be applied to your wider business too. Not only can they store retail data, but also company-based demands of extra staff members, and additional storage. To learn more about the Cloud and Hosting options available to you, and to get a fully comprehensive breakdown of Timico’s solutions, check out our guide here.

4. Calculate your RTO

By calculating your business’ Recovery Time Objective, you will have a better comprehension of how long you can afford to be down for, and how much data you can afford to lose. This means that if an incident occurs, you will be prepared enough to minimise its impact. Make sure to discuss with your network provider whether an RTO is in place for your business, and implement a strategy if something does go wrong.

5. Resilient Web Hosting

One of the most fundamental aspects to consider for the busy retail period is your online web hosting. You should make sure that your provider can guarantee a 99.99% uptime record for your website, with resilient connectivity and uncontended bandwidth. Make sure to discuss your web hosting expectations with your provider, and discuss your expectations for the busiest retail period of the year.

6. Use 4G and 3G Failover

While most shoppers have become accustomed to the ease of shopping online, businesses must inevitably be prepared for the prospect of an influx of customers in-store too.

If your physical store does loose connectivity, make sure you have implemented a system of 4G or 3G based backup solution. This can secure a connection to corporate networks when fixed connectivity fails. Your business can then continue to process credit card payments, collect sales information, and connect to customer services/information – despite the loss of connectivity. This is fundamental for businesses looking for continuous uptime, during the seasonal peak period.

Timico is an expert provider of Retail Network Infrastructures, catering to esteemed brands high street brands over the busy periods. If you’re interested in learning more about the services Timico can provide, email digitalfuture@timico.co.uk to be put in contact with one of our experts today.