Holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 7% and 9% in 2021, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast with holiday sales totaling $1.28 to $1.3 trillion during the November to January timeframe. Deloitte also forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 11-15%, year-over-year, during the 2021-2022 holiday season. This will likely result in e-commerce holiday sales alone reaching between $210 billion and $218 billion, hence preparing better incident management process is vital during this season.
Bottom-line, businesses should anticipate strong consumer spending for the upcoming holiday season. As consumer confidence and vaccination rates rise and shoppers get back in the swing. However, there is no question the past year and a half has changed retail forever. Retailers and e-tailers should be ready to deal with more peak traffic events, with holiday shopping this year being the first real test. Changes in buying habits have led to increased digital traffic. Though retailers experience periods of peak traffic each year around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the ongoing uncertainty around Delta Variant and the pandemic overall add a new dimension to the situation.
In our all digital all the time world, uptime is more critical than ever. Critical incidents can affect brand reputation and customer satisfaction, so retailers need to be able to identify and resolve all incidents quickly and effectively. We hope the following 6 Tips will help your organization better prepare your incident management process for the holiday season.
Plan for the Crunch
Plan to be at the ready with and elevated level of support to ensure seamless IT system operation. The key word is plan. As it has been said. Failure to plan is a plan to fail. This definitely includes planning for major events like Black Friday or Christmas and beyond.
Document Your IR Processes
Regarding on-call during peak seasonal periods It’s important to make sure that everyone who could be asked to respond to an incident fully understands the procedures to follow. In many organizations, this information is tribal knowledge, or knowledge gained through expertise and time that is not codified. For seasonal peaks and to accelerate incident response, retailers should standardize incident response by capturing this tribal knowledge and automating as many manual tasks as possible when possible. This allows teams to be knowledgeable and confident when responding to critical incidents.
Clearly Define IR Roles and Responsibilities
When roles and responsibilities are left undefined, teams often trip over each other in turn wasting time within critical response windows. Or vital stakeholder communications fall through the cracks. By standardizing who does what, you can ensure all your bases are covered. Common roles include incident commander, deputy, scribe, internal liaison, customer liaison, and SME. While all these roles may not be necessary for smaller incidents, it’s important to have a structure in place in case you must resolve a complicated critical incident. If you would like to learn more check out our blog post: Incident Lifecycle Essentials.
Forge Agreement on Severity Levels and Escalation Protocols
No question, you may not need all hands-on deck for every single incident. But when should you alert the next tier of responders? At what point do you need to delegate communication to a specific role? Many of these decisions are based on severity levels. The higher the severity of an incident, the more escalations are likely involved, and the more team members required to resolve the issue. To learn more about best practice policies, practices and procedures check out our Service Management for The Enterprise blog post.
Leverage Predefined Workflows
Workflows add and automate actions based on your escalation rules, enabling you to trigger supplementary responses based on predefined conditions. It is critical to predefine an actionable process that is implemented when these common issues and tasks occur to provide the operator with detailed instructions for quickly and effectively solving the solution – no matter how new or experienced you are on the team. This documentation means anyone on the response team can feel confident in their knowledge and ability to resolve some of the most common issues. Processes that are most important for you to document ahead of the holiday season come from lessons learned from previous incidents. To learn more about automated workflows check out our blog on the topic and better understand how automated workflows can streamline your incident response and enable you to better communicate with stakeholders.
Get In the Swing with Practice
It’s one thing to have these processes documented, it’s another to be able to execute seamlessly under pressure. While the pressure of Black Friday or Cyber Monday is hard to replicate, dry runs can still help your team understand what to do when incidents emerge. E-tailers and retailers looking to make the most out of the holiday season should examine incidents that occurred during the peak back-to-school shopping period. Then, once the team has determined a few good incidents to dig into, it’s time to roleplay. To practice the steps to take when dealing with major incidents, teams can organize mock incident response scenarios or “game days.”
The day-to-day pressure of the holiday season can never be totally avoided. The possibility and likelihood of incidents occurring as some point is high, but we feel confident that the suggestions in this post can help teams be better prepared to handle all incidents in stride and with confidence.
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