11.17.2016Enterprise Tech

Six last-minute tips for holiday season retail readiness

By: Maria Montenegro

As retailers and other holiday season players are making their lists and checking them twice, Verizon Enterprise Solutions is offering last minute tips for delivering the technology-rich and tailored experiences which consumers have come to expect.

According to Michele Dupré, group vice president of retail, distribution and hospitality for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, here is an IT checklist with key items that should be part of every organization’s holiday inventory:

  1. Take your own digital journey: 
    Frequently test what your customers experience once they’ve followed a digital path to your website.  Are customers personally greeted and is the functionality user-friendly and fast?  Is it easy to get customer service support, and can associates recognize returning customers? Also, does your mobile app provide value to your customers so that they’ll continue to use it instead of deleting it? 
  2. Know your traffic capacity:
    As last year’s Verizon Retail Index revealed, retailers must maintain peak performance across all of their sales channels throughout the holiday season and not simply around signature dates such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday. As many retailers now offer online and mobile incentives throughout the season, their digital channels must be able to handle sudden traffic increases and provide a satisfying and secure experience from browsing to delivery.
  3. Leverage tech savvy seasonal employees:
    As companies on board seasonal hires for the holiday season, consider a technology background as key criteria for employees who will be supporting digital commerce operations and distribution centers. A tech savvy skill set will be useful behind-the-scenes in your operations.
  4. Test your supply chain:
    Make sure to assess logistics processes - including employee protocol - to ensure that merchandise will be delivered as promised – whether through home delivery, curb-side pickup, subscription-based replenishment and other e-commerce options -- and that customers can receive timely and accurate updates during this ‘last mile’.  Confirming that all partners across the supply chain – from suppliers to distributors – can communicate easily is critical. And ensuring that your associates are well trained on what to do when it comes to order fulfillment is equally important.
  5. Shore up Security:
    Keep ecommerce and mcommerce channels secure. Protect public-facing websites and mobile apps, which can be magnets for cyber thieves. Also, use mobile device management for safeguarding employee access to corporate information; encrypting data; and, protecting against viruses.
  6. Prepare for the unexpected.
    Business continuity and disaster-recovery planning and implementation should top the lists of business concerns no matter the time of year.  Monitor and test network redundancy and back-up solutions often so that digital platforms and physical store locations can be up and running again as quickly as possible in the event of an outage.