The holiday shopping season is upon us, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner. Last year, shoppers spent over $655.8 billion during Black Friday and that amount is expected to increase by 47% this year. And during Cyber Monday last year, shoppers spent a record-breaking $3.45 billion, a 12.1% increase from the previous year.
Peak shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday serve as a major test for every company’s IT infrastructure. A retailer whose IT infrastructure fails during Black Friday or Cyber Monday could lose an estimated 8% of the day’s sales for every hour that their infrastructure is down.
These holidays, which are arguably the busiest retail days of the year, lead to a significant increase in the volume of shoppers. And in order to better serve these customers, companies must ensure that their IT infrastructure is resistant to failure and offers a true 360-degree and omnichannel experience. Most importantly, both IT and business teams across the organization must be prepared for any challenges that may arise.
So how can retailers achieve the above? Here are 3 tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday along with ways that MuleSoft has helped companies across various sectors bring these strategies to life.
1. Build an IT infrastructure that is performant, scalable, and resistant to failure
One of the most important goals of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other peak holidays is ensuring performance and uptime. During Black Friday in 2015, for example, 1 in 5 retail websites crashed before 9AM. And in such circumstances, website crashes and downtime can impact customer loyalty and lead to lost revenue.
In order to mitigate crashes and downtime, companies going into peak shopping periods must build an IT infrastructure resistant to failure by ensuring:
- Performance – The presence of a high performant IT infrastructure is intrinsically tied to stronger security, better load balancing, higher uptime and, in turn, a better customer experience.
- Scalability – The ability to quickly scale up or down in response to customer and market shifts enables organizations to be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of customers––regardless of whether it is Black Friday or a regular weekday.
At MuleSoft, we work with a number of customers to ensure that their IT infrastructure fulfills the above requirements. MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform provides a unified solution that combines data and application integration across legacy systems, SaaS applications, and APIs––whether it is on-premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments.
More specifically, Anypoint Platform offers 99.99% uptime SLAs and a secure, scalable architecture for the most demanding periods. Take, for example, our work with Redwood Logistics, one of the fastest growing logistics companies in North America. During a peak shipping period, such as Black Friday, it’s imperative that the entire supply chain is optimized. And this means ensuring that delivery partners are also able to perform and scale.
Redwood Logistics, a company charged with transporting goods and supplies across North America, is put to the test during high season traffic. With Anypoint Platform and an API-led approach to connectivity, Redwood Logistics was able to abstract the complexity of their EDI standards, applications, and data using APIs.
More importantly, Redwood Logistics built an IT infrastructure based on performance and scale. “We have zero downtime, right out of the gate,” said Eric Rempel, Chief Information Officer at Redwood Logistics. “We have a persistence layer, so zero message loss. And since we deployed our application, we’ve had 100% uptime.” During a peak period like Black Friday, MuleSoft allows customers, and their partners, to ensure they can meet customer expectations.
“API-led connectivity has simplified how we look at our connectivity problems and, more importantly, helped us focus on how to drive more value to our clients,” said Rempel.
2. Sustain 360-degree customer views and omnichannel experiences
During peak shopping days, every company’s real-time 360-degree customer view will be heavily tested, especially because customers will constantly move in and out of digital (e.g. mobile), physical (e.g. in-store), and social (e.g. Facebook) channels at a much higher velocity and frequency than off-peak periods.
This means that companies will not only need to ensure that they sustain a single view of their customers, but also provide these customers with a personalized, consistent omnichannel experience, in which customers have multiple avenues for purchase––whether it is on mobile, web, or in stores.
At MuleSoft, we have worked with companies such as Unilever, one of the largest CPG companies in the world, and GANT, a global fashion retailer with over 750 stores across the world, to deliver omnichannel experiences to their customers.
More recently, we worked with a billion dollar specialty retailer to build a seamless, personalized shopping experience for both in-store and online customers, so that customers can have a consistent shopping experience regardless of which digital (or physical) channel they choose. To deliver this experience, this retailer used an API-led approach to connectivity to expose their systems, applications, and data through APIs.
The APIs that the retailer created were then reused to develop a mobile application with real-time inventory calls and also reused within in-store kiosks that can complete end-to-end transactions. With MuleSoft and an API-led approach, this retailer was to achieve a 95% uptime, a 15% increase from their previous approach. Additionally, they were able to deliver a true omnichannel experience––ranking #3 on the list of best omnichannel retailers.
3. Produce IT playbooks for possible scenarios and set up an IT “war room”
For Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the peak holiday shopping season, it is important for IT to create detailed playbooks that outline possible scenarios and how teams should address and escalate challenges––whether it is payment processing issues or website and/or server downtime. These playbooks must be produced together with business teams, partners, and vendors to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned in terms of strategy and understand the steps that need to be taken when challenges arise. These challenges can then be addressed by relevant stakeholders in a “war room” where IT teams can remain on standby around the clock.
At MuleSoft, we value the importance of having continual support and service, which is why our customer support team offers deep MuleSoft expertise for every customer––eliminating the need for unnecessary escalations.
We offer 24/7 coverage through regional teams in North America, London, Sydney, and Buenos Aires, and global follow-the-sun processes and direct access to engineering. Our customers love the service they receive from our support team. It’s no wonder that the support team has received a 90%+ customer rating for 3 years running!
See how MuleSoft can help
Holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer companies across the spectrum – from brick-and-mortar retailers to eCommerce giants – the opportunity to attract millions of customers through personalized offers and great web experiences.
In order to better prepare for these high volume holidays, companies must ensure that their IT infrastructure can not only handles millions of transactions, but also offers a real-time, omnichannel experience that creates a truly personalized shopping journey.
For more information about how MuleSoft can help you improve your retail IT infrastructure, take a look at our eBook, Building the Connected Retail Experience.
And for even more resources on how MuleSoft powers companies during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond, visit us at NRF’s Big Retail Show, January 14-16, at booth 1073. Discover how we help our retail customers achieve business transformation – for demo times and to book a meeting, check out our NRF Page.