With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, retailers must prepare for a dramatic surge in demand, or risk consequences such as downtime, errors or outages that have the potential to damage their brands.
Research from PWC has shown that strategies such as "Click & Collect," enhanced web and mobile shopping, and social media engagement can improve customer experience and ensure brand loyalty, but integrating these new technologies is time and resource intensive. In order to be successful, the integration must be seamless, to prevent website issues, inconsistent branding, or disruptions to the user's experience.
According to Rakesh Khanna, CEO and President of global IT solution provider, Syntel, many businesses struggle to implement new digital technology due to the persistence of back-end legacy systems, which can have an effect that stretches all the way through to the enterprise's digital storefront.
"Retailers are under significant technology pressure, and many lack the digital capabilities to meet customer expectations during the impending holiday rush," said Khanna. "It is essential that retailers devote as much attention to modernising their back-end systems as they do to new web, mobile and social functionality in today's digital economy."
One of the keys, he says, is incorporating an intelligent automation strategy across the enterprise.
"Back-end automation enables enterprises to do more with less, reduce costs and free up the budget and talent to innovate and effectively service an increasingly tech-savvy and brand agnostic customer base," said Khanna.
While the majority of retailers have already implemented e-commerce to varying degrees, aging legacy systems may be hindering growth. The amount of manual maintenance work required drives costs higher, and an inability to effectively manage new types of data is often restricts the digital age functionality that can be rolled out to the marketplace.
Khanna's firm, Syntel works with its clients to effectively manage, migrate and modernize legacy technology systems to avoid a "digital disconnect" that can be a drag on retailers' profits.
"Brick and mortar retailers, and even early adopters of eCommerce models can struggle with the limitations of legacy IT," said Khanna. "Specialists like Syntel can ensure that back-end systems are modernised, and one of the main benefits is increased scalability to handle spikes in demand like we expect on Black Friday and Cyber Monday."
With Cyber Monday projected to be the biggest shopping day in history, implementing robust, efficient computing infrastructure becomes even more critical to maximising profits during the critical holiday shopping season.
"Migrating onto modern systems will ensure that retailers are better able to manage their online presence, deal with the eCommerce explosion, and provide a seamless customer experience that will ensure the long-term health of their brands," said Khanna.