Black Friday is in the books. Did your IT systems keep up?

Posted in: Business Insights, Technical Track

Black Friday weekend is over. If you’re either an online or bricks and mortar retailer, then congratulations – you made it!

We at Pythian hope you crushed your online sales targets these last few days with the help of your IT and data systems. By now you’re no doubt well acquainted with the intense increase in demand and burst of traffic that comes with peak shopping season, but we realize it’s not easy keeping up when every year seems to see new records set for consumer spending around U.S. Thanksgiving weekend.

This year’s shopping turnout was another high water mark. The National Retail Association says a record 189.6 million shoppers did their thing either online or in-store from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, a 14 percent year-over-year increase. Amazon says this past Cyber Monday was the busiest day in the company’s history. And according to Adobe, it was the biggest day in online shopping history, period, with an estimated $9.4 billion spent online on Cyber Monday alone. That’s a 19 percent increase from last year.

All these big numbers are tantalizing for online retailers, but also mean your system needs the flexibility of a gymnast to be able to quickly scale at the pace required. It’s a lesson that some retailers, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way this year.

If your systems kept up without breaking a sweat, then congratulations once again – it means you’ve passed the first big test of the season! If not, there are ways to make the most out of all that extra traffic without dealing with panic-inducing, profit-eating disruptions. Here are two of the most effective ways to get your data estate up to speed:

  • Optimize and modernize your current on-premises system. Whether it’s underpinned by Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Apache Hadoop, MongoDB or other technologies, a good consultant or managed services provider has the strategic and practical expertise required to provide operational improvements, configuration management, performance tuning and other services. The catch? Because it’s on-prem, you may need to spend CapEx to get your system up to speed.
  • Migrate your on-premises data estate to the cloud. Cloud platforms like Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure are inherently easy to scale – in both storage and compute capacity – both up and down as required, without having to invest in extra capacity that you may only need sporadically. Cloud platforms are also very cost effective because you pay only for the storage and compute that you use, while not requiring you to invest in extra hardware or data center costs.

Pythian’s cloud, database and analytics experts have worked with countless online and brick-and-mortar retailers across North America and Europe, ensuring their systems can deal with both seasonal spikes in demand and year-round rapid growth. 

In the case of Grasshopper, for example, Pythian expertise helped optimize the virtual phone system provider’s on-prem data infrastructure to keep pace with their fast data growth. Pythian reduced the time it took to produce reports from 40 minutes to nine seconds by rebuilding the system’s application logic using SQL. This was all done for just 10 percent of the initial quote, while also saving Grasshopper ongoing software maintenance costs thanks to the rewritten application code (which required little to no maintenance).  

Pythian experts can ensure your IT systems are performant and elastic enough to meet your next challenge, including next year’s big shopping days, all while keeping costs under control. 

Have questions? Want to talk with a technical expert? Schedule a tech call with our team to get the conversation started.

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