Until recently a uniquely American tradition, Black Friday has gone global, and is without a doubt the busiest shopping day of the year, heralding the begin of the holiday season, in which retailers make 20 — 40 percent of their annual revenue.
Whilst in years gone Black Friday would conjure images of shopping mall stampedes and bargain-crazed brawls, the advent of online retail has changed the face of this pseudo-holiday. In a recent study by the National Retail Federation over half of shoppers plan to do some of their Black Friday shopping online.
That's not even taking into account Black Friday's online counterpart, Cyber Monday, where those unwilling to bear the brunt of the real-world shopping environment venture online. Coined in 2005, Cyber Monday has established itself as a significant shopping day in its own right, and online retailers offer specific deals to draw in even more customers.
So, what does this all mean for the retailer? Put simply, consumer expectations are significantly higher than they were in the pre-digital era, demanding a seamless, hassle-free experience in both the online and offline realms. A research report we ran earlier in the year revealed that 51 percent of shoppers refuse to even enter a shop if the line is too long, whilst 68 per cent will abandon a purchase for the same reasons.
To meet the expectations of this new breed of consumer and create an omni-channel experience retailers have been rolling out a plethora of new applications: unified communications, interactive POS applications, free wifi, and web/mobile based apps to name just a few.
However, in this understandable attempt to adapt to the changing customer, few retailers have taken into account the strain this puts on their corporate network. Network slowdown can cause customers to abandon checkouts (estimated as a 40 percent loss in revenue) as well as impact customer service programs and marketing.
Worryingly, 78 percent of retailers are not able to guarantee application performance despite 88 percent confirming that such issues negatively impact their customer satisfaction. Ironically, they actually risk losing business by providing a more digital, but inevitably inferior shopping experience.
If retailers are to get the Omni-channel right they need to guarantee that their corporate network can run smoothly even on the busiest days. By ensuring that business-critical applications take priority over those less critical applications, retailers can deliver the seamless shopping experience that modern customers expect, and reap the benefits of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the busy holiday season.
Through Ipanema, retailers can:
- Reduce the time customers must wait in checkout lines,
- Easily roll out new applications like PSS, in-store interactive kiosks,
- Easily allow the network to absorb new applications,
- Enable end-users of business-critical systems to be more productive,
- Guarantee they won't lose business during the busiest shopping days.