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Availability is Key To e-Commerce Consumer Experience

Author: Raymond Goh - Head of Systems Engineering, Asia & Japan, Veeam Software
 

According to the recently published iPrice’s 2018 report, retail e-commerce sales in Southeast Asia grew from $5.5billion in 2015 to surpass $10billion in 2017. This rising trend highlights the growing number of consumers who are comfortable buying almost everything online – from detergents and vegetables to expensive smart TVs and furniture. To this effect, 74 per cent of digital shoppers aged between 18 and 55 in Malaysia make digital purchases at least once every month, with three in ten doing so weekly.

With the increased demand, retailers have their work cut out for them to keep their promise of delivering quality and precise quantity, on time for customers. Data needs to be hyper-available and has become critical to gain a competitive edge and survive against digital disruption.
 
With the increase in traffic loads, data security and agility have become of paramount importance. For data to securely move across multi-cloud infrastructures, it must meet the expectations of the mobile, always-on world. All businesses, large or small need to offer round the clock uninterrupted services to survive ‘the new world order’ of consumers’ expectations of a hyper-available enterprise. With the consumer’s experience at the heart of a business, availability of data can provide a crucial advantage for businesses.
 
Surge in online shoppers

According to The Age of Focus, the Malaysia retail online market will grow at 23 per cent per year through 2021, driven by electronics and media, thanks to the government’s digital outreach programmes. In addition, new technology trends like cloud, big data, mobile, etc. are elevating convenience levels and further empowering consumers for informed decision-making. To elevate the shopping experience, customers want the online interface to be engaging and fast to respond. With the content shifting from plain text to visual i.e. images and videos, websites /apps are managing massive amounts of data that users expect at the click of the button. Delivering an Always-On business will help convert consumer engagement to sales.
 
Unplanned downtime preparedness

Unplanned downtime can not only result in loss of revenue but also impact productivity and reputation. According to the 2017 Veeam Availability Report, 82% of enterprises are facing a gap between what their users’ demand and what IT can deliver. This gap results in unplanned downtime costs averaging $21.8 million per year which ultimately stifles innovation, as 66% of enterprises admit that digital transformation initiatives are being held back by unplanned downtime.
 
Availability is key in preparing online retailers to meet the growing demands of digital shoppers. The only way to mitigate the risk is to have the right technology in place to monitor, restore, and restart.
 
Consumer communication: In the event of a blackout, direct a customer to a helpline or activate dark site. This assures customers with the dedicated message that the issue is being resolved.
 
Testing paradigms: To better prepare for peak loads such as sale season, retailers need to understand the present performance metrics. One way to do this is to scan historical data of online traffic. Once performance patterns are formed, benchmark average daily traffic against past peak loads to generate insights in meeting high demands.
 
Mock load testing: Conduct mock tests with artificial traffic and help analyze server capacity to accommodate peak loads without failing to meet the anticipated demand. If it fails to accommodate the increased load, get your technical team to resolve potential bottlenecks. Continue to test until the website accommodates peak loads.
 
Monitoring is key: Once the bottlenecks are removed, it is critical to automate real-time monitoring of backup and virtual infrastructure. This helps in flagging any potential issues before the website or application impact the users negatively. Additionally, this enables tracking of resource allocation and utilization, which is critical for maintaining Availability of IT services.
 
In the developing Malaysia e-commerce market, consumers are demanding availability anytime, anywhere in the form of Always-On platforms. Availability acts as a differentiating factor for winning or losing a customer, and any gap in Availability will cause hindrances in establishing a smooth shopping experience – what availability enables and what customers demand.
 

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