1 INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE HOLIDAY PREPAREDNESS FOR RETAILERS
2 KEYS TO HOLIDAY READINESS When much of the world is vacationing, retailers must prepare for the seasonal spike of the next big holiday. Holiday readiness is vital. Approximately 20% of annual retail sales is crammed into this short period. And to cope, retailers hire hundreds of thousands of seasonal employees. While customers may always expect your e-commerce systems to be fast, smooth and easy to use, during holidays, they demand it. With this increase in transaction traffic, logistics and supporting resources comes an increased risk for IT. Retail and security systems must support the brand, customer experience and critical transactional data while remaining competitive. All year, retail customers expect a consistent and seamless user experience from the perspective of the omnichannel shopper, whether it s through stores, distribution centers, mobile apps, e-commerce, social media, call centers even third-party partner networks. During peak shopping times and holidays, those demands only increase. Holidays also elevate retailers business and brand risks. Recent cyber intrusions at Target, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and many other retailers show that the danger of a malicious attack on your own systems is all too real. Cyberattacks can not only disrupt retail operations, but also slow and even prevent sales, all while seriously damaging your brand s reputation. Preparing for holidays is far from simple. But taking these three approaches now can help retailers: Be responsive Be elastic Be secure These three approaches can help retailers provide the technology and businessfocused capabilities that are so critical for holiday seasons. They can also help you increase customer satisfaction, protect your brand s reputation, ensure systems uptime during peak traffic periods, and maximize both revenue and conversions. Let s examine each in turn. BE RESPONSIVE While customers may always expect your e-commerce systems to be fast, smooth and easy to use, during holidays, they demand it. Anything less, and they re likely to defect. After all, competing retailers are only a few clicks away. To achieve greater responsiveness and retain valuable customers, consider these steps: Test, test and test again. While end user touch points are commonly tested, supporting systems are often not. That s an oversight. Instead, be sure to examine your entire IT architecture from end to end, including your application, data, networking and cloud platforms. But don t stop there. You ll also need to test competing workflows. For example, if your forecasting system tries to grab computing resources, what happens to online orders? Thankfully, your engineers can use automated tools to test and simulate real-world scenarios. Look deep for performance issues. These can easily be hidden within interoperating systems. Don t let them stay that way. Make sure your store systems can run offline at least for a few hours allowing failover systems to take over in the event of a failure. Make sure databases are correctly tuned, too. Networks need to be designed and tested. And how about data storage do you have enough? Don t forget external services. Because they re not directly in your control, external systems can form the weakest link in your chain. And with the growth of Web services and the cloud, there are more of these services available than ever before. They re more important than ever, too. For example, a sluggish address-verification system can bring your checkout process to a crawl. Your goal? Make sure that can t and won t happen. 2 INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE
3 BE ELASTIC To keep up, you need enough data storage, networking capacity and raw compute power or the ability to quickly allocate more as needed. How scalable do your systems need to be, to cope with the holiday season shopping rush? The right answer: very. Holidays and peak shopping cycles present dramatically increased demands. To keep up, you need enough data storage, networking capacity and raw compute power or the ability to quickly allocate more as needed. Sure, you will forecast your holiday capacity needs. But what if actual demand greatly exceeds your forecasts? Consider these tips for greater elasticity: Design software to scale. This is an architecting task. Place workloads on systems that can be scaled quickly, and ensure network bandwidth scales too. This may require moving to the cloud model that best supports your particular workloads private, public or hybrid. As for large batch processes the real enemies of scalability consider moving them to the cloud, too. That way, they can be run in highly elastic virtual-server farms. Run your run-book. Here s where your data center can optimize all batch-process schedules. Make sure they ll run at times that don t interfere with your transactional systems. Consider rescheduling some jobs to run either before or after the holidays, rather than during. Refactor your workload. Many batch processes are essential. Not running them? Not an option. Still, there s time enough to refactor your workloads and run them in the cloud. Rather than revamping the entire system, focus on the resource hogs and aim for a point solution. BE SECURE One thing no one wants is a data breach. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have other ideas. During and right after a peak holiday season are prime times for data thefts, system intrusions, malware incursions and other cyber threats. These steps can keep your systems and customers safe and secure during the holidays: Guard the last mile. That s where an overwhelming majority of data breaches occur. To be sure, smart payment cards can help. But by themselves, they re not a complete solution. Get holistic. Far too many retailers take a fragmented approach to security. Don t be one of them. Instead, take an omnichannel approach using tokenization which protects sensitive data with substitutes as well as fraud detection and other security best practices. Audit early and often. Conduct a full intrusion-detection audit to ensure you re truly protecting your customers payment and personal information. Ensure that vital data is encrypted end to end. Leverage a vault system to tokenize credit cards; then isolate the system in a highly secure zone. Stay updated. Make sure all your systems receive the latest security patches and fixes. With cybercriminals constantly launching new types of attacks, you simply can t afford to fall behind. Also remember to conduct regular and timely maintenance on your entire IT environment, including Web and application servers, databases and firewalls. 3 INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE
4 HOW CSC HELPS YOUR HOLIDAY PREPAREDNESS CSC can help you prepare for the holidays, both with tailored offerings and next-generation solutions. Our tailored offerings can help you conduct three important tasks: Big data and machine learning can help you not only prepare, but also react to holiday events and peak shopping spikes in real time. Applications Testing. Test enterprise applications for usability, scalability, functionality, integration and performance. Mobile Apps Testing. Be certain that all mobile apps are automated, usable, scalable and more. Security Management. Provide vital services for intrusion detection, data protection and security certification. What s more, these three bundles are fully integrated, meaning they can run standalone or together. This provides a consistent user experience and a fully integrated solution that s ready to go today. With peak holiday shopping patterns now a regular occurrence, this offers you an important time advantage. Ready to leverage customer intelligence? Then let CSC help you prepare for holidays with next-generation solutions. Big data and machine learning can help you not only prepare, but also react to holiday events and peak shopping spikes in real time. You ll mine information otherwise hidden in online shopping carts to understand customer behavior and adjust accordingly to boost sales and margins: Explore customer responses to promotions. Determine which items customers frequently buy together. Optimize local store inventories. Understand how various customer segments are performing. Now is the time to create your big data repository and collection technologies. The most sophisticated retailers may even want to create a data science team to correlate information into actionable insights. These can include customer segmentation, shopper predictive analytics, social listening and direct competitive pricing. CSC s application service experts can also help your holiday preparedness by conducting in-depth analyses of all system-configuration tiers. This encompasses everything from systems configuration before holidays, service escalation during, and wrap-ups after. What about epayment services? CSC can help you make sense of today s complex multichannel, multivendor shopping environment. Our services provide a PCI-certified payment processing gateway that can easily handle your real-time online payment transactions, with or without tokenization of sensitive data. Best of all, it s delivered as a fully managed service that has been specifically designed to meet your business-critical availability requirements. Holiday readiness is vital. Your retail organization can prepare itself three ways: be responsive, be elastic and be secure. CSC s wide range of solutions and services are ready to help you get there today. ììlearn more about how CSC can help you prepare your retail systems for holiday seasons at csc.com/retail, or request more information at csc.com/contact_us. 4 INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE
5 Regional CSC Headquarters The Americas 3170 Fairview Park Drive Falls Church, Virginia United States Asia, Middle East, Africa Level 9, UE BizHub East 6 Changi Business Park Avenue 1 Singapore Republic of Singapore Australia 26 Talavera Road Macquarie Park, NSW 2113 Australia +61(2) Central and Eastern Europe Abraham-Lincoln-Park Wiesbaden Germany Nordic and Baltic Region Retortvej 8 DK-2500 Valby Denmark South and West Europe Immeuble Balzac 10 place des Vosges Paris la Défense Cedex France UK, Ireland and Netherlands Floor 4 One Pancras Square London N1C 4AG United Kingdom About CSC CSC is a global leader in next-generation IT services and solutions. The company s mission is to enable superior returns on our clients technology investments through best-in-class industry solutions, domain expertise and global scale. For more information, visit us at Computer Sciences Corporation. All rights reserved. MD_8222a-16 08/2015
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