Planning for the peak of peak seasons: Retailers must move in real-time to come out on top in the ultra-competitive 2022 Holiday Season

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Peak trade season is right around the corner, with activity around Black Friday, Cyber Monday and general Holiday/Christmas shopping ramping up – retail organizations, staff and associated supply chains are gearing up for the first true “post-Covid” holiday for two years. And consumers will tolerate no excuses from their retail suppliers.

Peak planning is already carrying the baggage of the past

“The race is already on. Salesforce research shows 42% more shoppers worldwide plan to start buying gifts earlier.

“But… residual issues still linger that can cause pinch points throughout the retail supply chain. Looking at the 2022 holiday shopping trends, Salesforce highlights that retailers must balance rising product costs, increasing first- & last-mile costs, and inventory shortages & overages.

“Smaller businesses are expected to do better too! Recent peak planning research has shown 95% of merchants have had to adjust their planning in response to supply chain disruptions and market conditions. For delivery times and honoring orders, SMBs are not immune from sharp customer expectations – 65% of consumers expect small brands to ship as fast, or faster, than major chains.

“Bottlenecks at these industry pressure points can result in orders being stacked up, delays in order processing, orders missed, or late delivery times – resulting in tremendous effort to reconcile, overall poor customer experience, and lost revenue.

“Salesforce points the finger at the need for operating and reacting in real-time to deliver to the consumer: “Economic challenges and shifting consumer preferences mean that leading with a data-driven strategy will be critical to reacting to conditions in real-time.”

Managing sudden volume spikes

“Sudden volume spikes are inevitable for all retailers – but it’s how these are dealt with from a data and technology perspective that is key to maximizing resources and ensuring these spikes are managed effectively in real-time. A new approach to underlying IT infrastructure is required.

“A clean, user-friendly app or ecommerce platform may serve as the front-end for retail businesses, but it’s no good if the underlying software infrastructure that supports the business is unable to deal with surges in traffic and demand due to holiday deals, promotions and similar events into the future. You may know you’ve got a problem, but it’s useless information if you don’t have the tools to solve the issues.”

How can retailers prepare themselves to better react to volume and traffic spikes?

“Advanced event broker technology can play a key role in preventing issues caused by the surges in traffic and demand. Retailers often experience large, “bursty” flows of data from significant order volumes during peak times which immediately benefit from event streaming underpinned by an event mesh. The result is improved response and processing times that avoid any damaging impact on consumer-facing operations.”

Here’s how it works – when the floodgates open, retailers can react

“There is huge potential to use advanced event broker technology to prevent systems being bottlenecked due to surges in traffic. Event-driven architecture deals with these ‘bursty’ flows of data and is supported by an event mesh that dynamically distributes events – regardless of application type or capability of location – to prevent systems being overwhelmed in such a capacity.

“Preemptive indications from event-driven integrations are able to signal the point-to-point processes that sync with APIs, handling large amounts of data for smooth operations.”

Demand surges are not a one-off occurrence

“It’s not just the holiday season where this real-time view of retail operations is a must. Increasing consumer demand for real-time services and convenience, combined with increased digitization and interconnectivity, mean organizations need to have the right technology in place to anticipate and mitigate similar surges.

“For example, the problem could be a surge in demand caused by your own promotions or initiatives. Any business likely to experience large, “bursty” flows of data from significant order volumes made during peak times can benefit from event streaming underpinned by an event mesh. It will improve response and processing times and avoid any damaging impact on consumer-facing operations.”

Prepare today to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future

“The absence of an event mesh capable of handling event data streaming in real-time can cause turmoil for not just the consumer, but for the retailers themselves. Salesforce found 16% of shoppers say they will increase their use of digital marketplaces this holiday, as marketplaces such as Google Shopping allow consumers to easily compare prices, navigate deals, and ensure quick delivery.

“If a retailer’s product isn’t competitively priced, available and shipped quickly then they risk losing customers. This is where being unable to handle volume bursts can prove to be catastrophic to a retailers’ business success, especially in the ultra-competitive peak holiday season in 2022.”

Your brand reputation is in the post

“With the right technology put in place to support and process the volume of orders being created in a short space of time, the scale of demand fulfillment nightmares is mitigated from both a performance and brand reputation perspective.”

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