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How To Avoid Cybergeddon On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday present both an opportunity and a threat to ecommerce businesses in the UK. Retailers large and small have to set up robust systems to get the most out of the expected shopping frenzy.

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday present both an opportunity and a threat to ecommerce businesses in the UK. Retailers large and small have to set up robust systems to get the most out of the expected shopping frenzy.

Guides

How To Avoid Cybergeddon On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday present both an opportunity and a threat to ecommerce businesses in the UK. Retailers large and small have to set up robust systems to get the most out of the expected shopping frenzy.

Share this article

The holiday sales season is nearly upon us. Last year Cyber Monday brought in $2 billion in sales in the US alone, so retailers everywhere are preparing their physical and online stores for increases in visitor traffic and sales transactions.

Avoiding downtime during this busy season is critical; businesses risk losing $500,000 every hour their website is down during peak periods, according to the Ponemon Institute.

In 2014, the eCommerce portals of UK retailers Currys, Tesco, PC World and Boots crashed under high volumes of online traffic. Analysis of online traffic from Big Data labs showed the traffic at midnight on Cyber Monday 2014 was 157% higher than the previous year and that figure is predicted to increase this year.

Databases not properly equipped to handle this explosion of data drastically limit operational performance. Unresponsive websites frustrate impatient shoppers of whom, according to Statista, 24% cited website crashes and 15% cited website time-outs as reasons they abandon shopping carts and click off the site, losing companies potential revenue and customer goodwill.

One year should be plenty of time to improve technology operations. However, UK retail giant Argos recently suffered from technology glitches when large numbers of customers went online to take advantage of the sales leading up to Black Friday.

Sadly this could be a harbinger of a holiday season fraught with lost opportunities for retailers, as online shopping continues to increase in popularity and systems fail to keep up.

ecommerce delivery

With traffic rising in the next four days, can your back end systems cope?

Problems with databases which aren’t properly architected and managed to handle activity spikes can lead to application downtime, an issue which costs companies an average of $5,600 per minute according to Gartner. If the largest and most famous retailers with decent IT budgets are having problems, how will small businesses cope?

Downtime isn’t the only danger. Any slowdown in site performance can translate into lost revenues. New sales promotions are designed to draw customers online, causing spikes in web activity and putting an unprecedented strain on the applications and databases they rely on.

Every website interaction, search, and purchase requires real-time data. Making sure data is stored safely and moved correctly has a direct impact on the responsiveness users experience and the speed of presentation of relevant product and pricing information, creation of personalised offers or recommendations, and the processing of payments. In this high-pressured sales period, faster response time translates into higher sales.

Even if all goes well during the shopping frenzy, risks linger long after the shoppers have left. Securing personal and financial information is critical to stay compliant with regulations, protect against legal liability, and remain in the good graces of customers.

In 2014, 14 million customer records were stolen from Target stores, costing the retailer ten million dollars in legal damages and immeasurable loss of customer confidence. Malware installed on the store’s point of sale machines enabled hackers to access customer credit card data, which was not encrypted.

Target Sales

Target is having to win back the trust of its customers after a data leak

So while retailers hire extra staff and prepare their sales teams to deliver great customer experiences under the extreme workloads at this time, where is the additional bandwidth for the IT team?

Database Administrators (DBAs) are supporting sales operations behind the scenes, ensuring site availability and scalability, identifying issues, and optimising performance of the company’s systems during this demanding period.

It is therefore critical DBAs have purpose-built tools to scale and manage databases  to support increased web traffic. The right technologies, tools, and practices can elevate IT teams into retail superheroes.

To ensure databases aren’t overwhelmed in an eCommerce Cybergeddon, here are some best practices every IT team should action during the busy holiday shopping season:

1.    Improve availability - Have a tested plan in place for how to respond to excessive load as a result of increased online traffic. Load-balancing between active servers cannot be more important at a time of intense workloads. Make sure a proven and tested backup database is in place. If in the event the master server goes offline, there will be a suitable replacement to keep applications and websites alive.

2.    Improve scalability - Put DBAs on active duty for around-the-clock monitoring and provide a clear chain of escalation if issues do occur. Monitor performance across applications, databases, and servers to see if workloads demand more server bandwidth. Clear communication when issues arise is the divide between fast resolution and long, revenue losing, outages.

3.    Improve security - Ensure that all critical maintenance and security patches are in place, and that customer data is encrypted.

For some retailers this crucial period is a make or break point and will determine whether they make any profit this year, or not. Retailers are hoping for record-breaking sales rather than system-breaking failures. Enjoy the holiday season and the best of luck from the MariaDB team if you are looking for the retail bargain of 2015.

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How To Avoid Cybergeddon On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

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