With the holidays just around the corner, consumers are depending on e-commerce sites to shop for gifts.
When it comes to dealing with heavy traffic and retail business problems, Avnet Technology Solutions, a global technology solutions distributor, is well positioned to offer advice for solution providers to prepare their clients for the anticipated busy shopping season. Avnet, through its Avnet Services organization, has helped some of the world's largest retailers fine-tune their digital shopping experiences through e-commerce strategy development and solution design, according to the company.
"While e-commerce companies may not think small glitches are a big deal, whether it's Black Friday or Christmas week and something goes wrong, that little problem becomes a big one," said Tony Vottima, senior vice president and general manager of the Tempe, Ariz.-based company. "We want to provide tips to resellers in providing solutions as the heavy workload of IT comes around during the holiday."
The e-commerce space is a fast-growing market as it relates to retail, and Avnet is looking to support global system integrators, ISV software application authors, and VARs who have large customers that need an e-commerce engine, said Vottima.
With e-commerce systems and performance, problems often arise from increased traffic and even minor malfunctions, said Vottima.
"The whole livelihood of business through sites are alright through the course of the year, but they can be exemplified during the holiday season," said Vottima. "If you get to a web page and [there's] a broken link, your promo doesn't work, or trying to purchase something is troublesome, a customer can easily log out and go to another site."
To prevent these problems, Vottima recommends auditing sites for customers, first running tests and seeing where the glitches are before the holiday season. In addition, monitoring the website at all times to pinpoint problems and reducing risk areas that could potentially bring a retail site to a screeching halt is imperative, said Vottima.
"A lot of companies build their websites out in caching," said Vottima. "They are adding more items that aren’t being built into the memory, and if you have to wait 10 to 20 seconds for it to reload, buyers become very impatient."
Also, today customers want to be able to access e-commerce sites from different types of devices, so making sure the website can adapt to a variety of devices, such as smartphones or tablets, is important, said Vottima.
"When you go to a website, they give you a mobile and desktop view, and the screen on your laptop versus the app is very different," said Vottima. "If you have only one view, the experience from the e-commerce buyer won't be pleasurable."
In addition, around the holiday season, temporary help must be trained correctly to prevent problems, said Vottima. Training programs can be created to review overall operations.
"This temporary [workforce] are not regular employees and need more time to resolve problems," said Vottima. "We come in and train that customer service team [to] help resolve their issues and make them happy."
NEXT: What Avnet Is Offering
Currently, Avnet is offering certified e-commerce experts to help solution providers train e-commerce teams, Vottima said.
"We'll sit on-site at those commerce-perfecting [sessions] to help our reseller base," said Vottima.
E-retailers are using cloud, extra bandwidth and servers to meet the increased demands during the holiday season, said Vottima. However, in the long run, this could drive up costs for customers.
"If you go out and buy extra storage just for a three-month period, come January after the return period, you have excess capacity you don't use," said Vottima. "Cloud compute power and paying a monthly service is a benefit that saves cost."
Cloud support for retail clients during the holiday season is crucial, said Chris Halvorson, vice president of supply chain and B2B integration at Oxford Consulting Group, an Avnet partner.
"Nobody wants to see their company name in the news for experiencing outages during holiday season, so it is one of the top concerns companies need to address when looking at a cloud solution," said Halvorson. "There are a wide variety of options and offerings to ensure the right model is available to handle the potential peaks or spikes in traffic. Having the right SLAs in place and architectural design play an important factor in the potential issues that can happen."
The advice provided by Avnet will benefit the Westerville, Ohio-based company, said Remy Dupuy, account executive of supply chain solutions at Oxford Consulting Group.
"Being able to host these solutions for our customers is crucial and is shaping the direction in which the industry is moving," said Dupuy. "As an e-commerce seller and implementer, knowing the direction and trends in customer needs is crucial to us. These tips help us keep current with what our customers want out of an e-commerce solution and help us tailor the direction in improving our offerings."
For the future, the opportunities in retail for reseller partners are abundant, said Vottima.
"Resellers should understand the opportunity in retail, IT services and solutions for resellers, and Avnet has invested heavily into this space," said Vottima. "We want our partners to grow in this space as technology gets more complex."
PUBLISHED NOV. 14, 2013