For many of us, the end of the year is a time of stock-taking, evaluating progress, and making plans for the future. For many businesses, however, it is the busiest, most hectic season of the year with high sales and peak workloads. The year-end is marked with a bunch of major holidays, starting with Halloween at the end of October and Black Friday at the end of November. These are followed by Christmas, the New Year, and Hanukkah. The winter holiday season is the biggest shopping period of the year. It is when many e-commerce and retail businesses make the largest portion of their revenues.
Nor did the latest global crisis, the COVID-19 epidemic, change that. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Quarantines and restrictions imposed by governments on physical businesses only created higher sales in the e-commerce sector. In 2020, for example, the sales on Cyber Monday, considered to be the biggest online shopping day of the year, reached  $10.8B in the U.S. This is a growth of 15.1% over 2019, and seasonal customer demand should be even higher this year. As a result, e-commerce businesses around the globe are wondering if their IT infrastructure is ready for unprecedented overloads. Because customer expectations are also increasing, more companies are looking to implement application modernization strategies to help them stay competitive in the Industry 4.0 e-commerce market.
How to prepare for seasonal overload in e-commerce?
There are several steps that you can take to prepare websites and other e-commerce infrastructure for seasonal overload and peaking customer demand. Here are some technologies, methods, and approaches that could prove useful.
Should we create mobile-friendly websites?
Even though the growing popularity worldwide of mobile internet usage is old news, it is still strongly affecting e-commerce. According to a Canadian consumer survey, only 15% of respondents used a mobile device for online shopping on Black Friday, 2019. In 2020, however, the percentage of mobile shoppers soared to 46%. More importantly, it is estimated to reach at least 48% in 2021. The total number of unique mobile internet users stood at 4.28 billion in 2020.
E-commerce businesses not optimizing their online sales channels for mobile customers are missing a large part of the recent online shopping growth. In order to seize this opportunity, your business needs a modern website with mobile-shopper-friendly responsive design. Also, don’t forget about other parts of creating a mobile shopping experience, aside from design. For example, many online retailers now have implemented accelerated checkout to further simplify the shopping process for mobile users.
How can we modernize e-commerce websites and apps?
Naturally, the need to modernize goes far beyond optimizing web properties for mobile users. Online customers in the 2020s increasingly expect a seamless online shopping experience. They want an experience where websites are augmented with mobile applications that support modern-day web technologies. These technologies allow users to import personal data when filling forms or automate connections with payment services. Implementing some of these features is difficult for businesses that rely on outdated tools as part of their IT infrastructure. As a result, modernizing websites and apps is often more challenging than it might first seem.
Learn more about modernization tools and AS400 IBM from our article: “AS400 Application Modernization: Guide.”
Should we optimize websites for high speed and fast load time?
Poor website load times can significantly damage an e-commerce business. Today’s consumers are used to websites that load fast. How fast? Ideally, it should take less than three seconds. According to a study by Google, the chance of a user bounce increased by 32% when a page load time went from one to three seconds. That number jumps to 90% as page load times go from one to five seconds. If a website takes up to 10 seconds to load, the chance of a bounce increases by 123%. The research also found that 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a website. This is why it is advisable to minimize site load time while making sure that a big spike in traffic won’t cause your website to crash.
Should we utilize chatbot technology?
Chatbots are one example of an innovative AI-based technology that has proven beneficial to e-commerce businesses. Chatbots can be extremely useful during the holiday season overload. This is because they help a company to provide customers with high-level support while minimizing customer churn and saving costs. According to a new consumer survey by LivePerson, 85% of consumers trust virtual assistants to answer FAQs. Moreover, 75% rely on help choosing a product and expect to spend more money with retailers they can message.
Should we synchronize, integrate and automate business processes?
Integrating internal and external IT systems with each other and establishing connections for real-time data exchange, along with synchronizing operations throughout teams and divisions is another major challenge. As the number of systems, tools, and components in a company grows, interconnecting and managing them efficiently is an important part of business success.
What software tools can help to deal with seasonal overload?
LANSA is the developer of Visual LANSA. Visual LANSA is a platform that allows organizations to modernize their legacy tools and easily build new enterprise-grade mobile, web, and desktop applications. It includes several powerful tools that help companies prepare their IT systems for high loads.
The following two instruments are especially relevant to e-commerce and other companies dealing with seasonal workload spikes.
LANSA Commerce Edition
LANSA Commerce Edition is a fully integrated component-based e-commerce solution. It allows businesses to augment their existing ERP systems with specific functionality they can deploy to their websites.
The LANSA Commerce Edition’s configurable and customizable pre-built components incorporate best-of-breed designs from top business websites and apply them to existing e-commerce sites. It supports multi-storefront capabilities from a single implementation. This provides users with multiple and distinct looks and feels, storefront branding, and domains for different B2B and B2C businesses. It includes a separate, secured site for maintaining storefronts, products, content, multilingual information, and more. The solution allows admins to create user roles and restrict access to specific parts of the site. All pages support Google analytics tracking.
LANSA Commerce Edition fully integrates with any ERP. It can interact with data and APIs in real-time to extend the functionality of B2C and B2B websites. Over 16 different ERP systems have securely implemented this LANSA solution.
LANSA Composer is a specialized business process integration suite. It handles the integration and process improvement challenges businesses face today. It does this by streamlining data exchange, processing, and monitoring between internal systems, external trading partners, and the cloud.
LANSA Composer is a simple and cost-effective way to get business transactions in and out of your business systems with less human effort. It reduces development time by including a set of ready-made activities that most companies need for business process integration. You simply assemble business processes. Assembling a process is much faster than writing program code to manage the process.
With the ability to drill down into any step of a business process, companies have full visibility into every transaction to examine the success or failure of a process. LANSA Composer includes the ability to restart a failed processing sequence from the point of failure. Data transformations can address databases across the IT system. Processing sequences can invoke any executable on the same server or spread across multiple Windows/IBM i servers.
Ready to capitalize on seasonal demand?
As countries around the globe continue to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, we have every reason to expect that online sales in the 2021 holiday season will match and exceed last year’s numbers. In order to make the most of growing customer demand, businesses need to make sure their web channels are up-to-date and able to handle high loads.
Ready to start implementing new features and modernizing your web properties? Get in touch with us to start utilizing LANSA Composer and LANSA Commerce Edition for your e-commerce needs.