Cloud solutions in retail are convenient. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. [shutterstock: 436427842, zaozaa19]
[shutterstock: 436427842, zaozaa19]
Blog E-Commerce

Even Cloud Solutions Can Be Optimized

Cloud solutions are convenient. Customers are relieved from maintenance, updates, or load changes. But what happens in critical situations like on Black Friday in the U.S. or on Singles Day in China? Bad things and unpleasant surprises.

Cloud solutions are gaining popularity. That’s not really surprising. On the one hand, cloud solutions are standardized, which reduces costs. On the other hand, they can be individualized more and more.

Even the licensing models are adaptable to customer needs. Billing can happen based on order line or order, which is perfect for seasonal load spikes. Or billing happens based on processor sizes, which is helpful for consistent loads. Some providers bill according to the revenue. Some providers even enable customers to temporarily expand capacities for seasonal spikes or unforeseen events (e.g. weather). There are endless possibilities.

Cloud solutions reach their limit when customers have a significant increase in traffic on their site, whether it is planned or unpredictable. That’s why dates like Black Friday are especially challenging for cloud providers with a customer base comprised of many retailers. Because then, everyone of them needs more capacities that they don’t need for the rest of the year. It is here that a gap between customer needs and provider wishes start to form. In such cases, it is always good to have a provider who honors the SLA even when it gets tough.

Cloud solutions aren’t everything

However, finding the right provider is only a small part of cloud success. You also need to stay up-to-date on trends and customer behavior. For example, did you know that traffic on retailer websites is significantly higher on the days before Black Friday then on the infamous day itself? This is because many customers like to bookmark products before all the stress and fuzz happens. But how can you find out things like this? For example through solutions like TeaLeaf, which scan customer behavior and make suggestions of what do to based on AI analytics.

If you have finished gathering this information, you should consider an IT health check together with your provider. Because not only cloud solutions have to withstand a high performance. Also every other system you use in combination with your shop, like your checkout process, the outsourced image database, the request to the warehouse, all of this has to be optimized as well.

It’s always useful to ask yourself: are my caching algorithms adapted to traffic spikes? Are parallel loads, like regular newsletters, turned off or at least postponed to night hours?

Many retailers struggled with the past Black Friday. There were slow screen changes. Some retailers, even major ones, had complete shutdowns and lost a lot of revenue and customers. So, here is a word of caution: even though the cloud has enormous benefits, don’t forget the reliable advantages of on-premise systems.

Source:
E-3 Magazine February 2019 (German)

About the author

Michael Kramer, IBM

Michael Kramer, IBM Cognitive Engagement Solutions CES - Watson Commerce and Marketing, is an expert of all things e-commerce with a lot of experience with the SAP community. Kramer is member of the supervisory board of E-3 publisher B4Bmedia.net.

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