5 Steps to Keep Retailers’ Websites Running During the Holidays

On average, the retail industry loses over $18 billion annually due to downtime — over four times more than any other business sector. With online holiday sales expected to reach a record $96 billion this year, your potential risk of losses from downtime is magnified during the holiday season.

When consumer spending peaks, the cost of downtime rises with it. It’s estimated that one day of downtime during the holidays could cost you between $500,000 and $5 million.

The following five steps will help you maximize revenue and productivity while creating a loyal base of happy customers this holiday season:

1. Learn from 2011. Last year, 18 percent of retailers reported holiday downtime. This year, ensure you have enough computing capacity as well as a technology solution that can get you back up and running instantly in the case of a server failure, power outage or other unexpected downtime. Also, be prepared for increased web traffic on and after major holidays. E-commerce sales rose 16.4 percent on Christmas Day 2011 compared to Christmas Day 2010, and this year’s Cyber Monday sales jumped nearly 30 percent compared to Cyber Monday 2011.

2. Make online shopping easy and available. E-commerce is expected to become a $963 billion industry by 2013, meaning there’s tremendous revenue opportunity for e-tailers who can shape their websites to what consumers value the most. Convenience ranked above price as the No. 1 priority for online shoppers this year. Work with your IT provider and technology partners to provide the best possible online customer experience.

3. Maintain industry compliance. Millions of consumers trust your brand with their private information (e.g., credit card numbers and home addresses). Ensure your business meets government and industry security standards. Even the healthiest holiday season earnings can be wiped cleaned by a fine for noncompliance, particularly in terms of PCI DSS and other private consumer data regulations. Conduct a complete business technology compliance audit to ensure your business is properly handling all consumer data. The audit should include any solutions provided by your technology partners.

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