6 ways to make sure your retail business booms

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Consistency in website streaming has been a major issue for e-commerce players and is extremely challenging as it can make-or-break their prospects.
As India gears up for another economic revival, consumers face the prospects of great deals and discounts during festive sales by the leading e-commerce players. Heavy traffic and increase in sales often muddle the functioning of these online portals. This year is going to be no different with experts predicting further rise in sales. The question is: How can you ensure your online business to sustain the festive sale traffic, so you don’t miss out any opportunity?
In recent years traffic loads of up to twenty times greater than normal have been seen by Indian e-commerce sites. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday in other countries, the sale season lasts several days, so sustained availability is the key.
Consumers Demand Availability
Over the past two years, the e-commerce sector has seen significant growth in India, driven by rapid technology adoption led by increasingly popular consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets, coupled with improved broadband access and 4G network. Furthermore, eBay and Amazon have intensified competition for Indian companies, and providing seamless online transactions is a must to challenge these international e-commerce behemoths. In addition to the user experience, greater emphasis has been placed on downtime by e-commerce businesses. Failure to manage the extra load during the festive season has severe repercussions that last well beyond Diwali.
According to the 2016 Veeam Availability Report, application downtime cost enterprises US $16 million each year in loss of revenue and productivity. However money is not all that is at stake; the data loss and downtime can cause massive employee productivity issues, customer experience problems, damage to the company’s reputation and concerns from the stock market affecting company’s valuation.
Consumers expect high performance and speed from websites or apps. It is therefore important to meet this expectation. That sounds obvious, but every year there are brands that fail to do this; their websites crash or they have slow load times and miss out on sales.
Technology, The Enabler?
According to Morgan Stanley, the e-commerce sales in India is expected to reach nearly US $120 billion by 2020. How do e-commerce players tap this growth opportunity? With India on the cusp of digital revolution, technology is expected to play the role of the catalyst facilitating this. However, the real challenge for IT professionals is how to manage modern digital business requirements with out-of-date legacy technology.
I have noticed that all e-commerce players have their own specific challenges that mean they are pretty much in need to access everything. However, with the current backup and replication standards, they settle for a low performing backup solutions. More often it cannot match up the newly built infrastructure of the modern data center.
In a recent survey, 82 per cent of CIOs say that there is a gap between the level of availability they can provide now and what end-users demand in order to provide an always-on business. Thus, planning for restoring data, in the fastest and efficient way possible, is essential if businesses are to avoid unnecessary downtime and loss of revenue.
Ensuring You’re Ready…
To be fully geared for the massive spike in sales like those seen during the festive season, I recommend online retailers take the following factors into consideration. Taking these measures will guarantee availability, minimise downtime, and avoid missing out on the sizeable sales opportunity ahead. You might think you have what you need, but only when things go wrong do you really know.
Capacity planning – In order to determine what potential peak loads are for your site servers, remove the guess work by reviewing previous figures using monitoring data and plan for a significant uptick beyond that you’ve seen before.
Real-time monitoring – Preparing yourself in advance is obvious, but do you have a simple way of environments when it matters? Are you confident you can avoid downtime and meet your Service Level Agreements (SLA)? Not only does this speed up troubleshooting of issues, and diagnosis of root causes, it can enable your team to manage potential issues before it turns into an actual problem.
Test and test again – Sure you’ve got a backup schedule, but that’s just not enough. You need to ask some serious questions. For example, how long does it take to recover the backup? Do you have the ability to restore a certain file or is it the whole system? How often do you test those backups to ensure they work and can be used as a point of rebuild? How many of your backups would fail? Less than 6 per cent of backups are tested each quarter, and more than 16 per cent of backups fail to recover.
Making data available 24*7 for 365 days a year is imperative, if you wish to drive a competitive edge and survive the digital disruption that is changing the business landscape. Words spread faster now, than ever before all thanks to the social media, where your customers and competitors are always connected.
If last year was a success, don’t take it for granted that 2017 will be fine too. If you can’t re-establish your website or app within 15 minutes, you need to seriously re-evaluate your systems. Start by asking yourself, ‘what will be the next steps I take towards availability for our website or app?’
The availability gap is the hidden true cost of your data centre, and ultimately your online business. Don’t let it stop your business from seizing the opportunity when the next festive season rolls around.

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