Black Friday weekend a chance to sell data tools and security

Data analytics and security might not be on the list for most shoppers but they should be for retailers and for their channel partners

If the tills stop ringing at any point during Black Friday and Cyber Monday then it could be to the channel's advantage as retailers get a sharp insight into the need to invest in IT systems.

The Black Friday weekend might have taken a few years to get going in the UK but it is now one of the largest shopping periods as retailers reach out to tempt those looking to spend before Christmas.

Discounts of up to 50% are now common in high-street stores and online but for those relying on technology to support the sales it could be an anxious weekend.

Retailers that should do well will include those that have reached out to the channel in the last twelve months to get help with real time data analytics and infrastructure.

“The winners of Black Friday will be the multi-channel retailers that invested in data to understand the attribution that online media and online store visits have on high street store sales, as they can make the right level of media, price and stock investments to profitably capitalise on this volume opportunity that kick starts Christmas trading," said Rob Fenton, UK managing director of fifty-five.

Rick Vanover, senior product strategy manager at Veeam, said that data centre and availability could be a key issue over the next few days.

"Downtime could have a damaging effect on revenue and repeat custom. For many retailers everything ties back to the data centre including the point of sale and website, so if an incident does occur then it is multiplied because of the rush associated to this buying pattern," he said.

"To reduce the risk and reap the benefits of the day, retailers should leverage the data they have to determine a number of factors such as how many transactions can be made in one day to ensure the back-end infrastructure can handle the surge," he added.

The Black Friday losers will be those that have scrimped on security or have failed to get decent policies in place to keep staff on the straight and narrow.

Resellers are more than able to plug the gaps in a security but a lot of customers wait until they have a problem before picking up the phone to call for help.

There are already concerns that busy retailers keen to make sales will inadvertently create an environment where sales staff could cut corners and increase the risk to the business.

"The real security challenge that retailers will face on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, whether in-store or online, is how to react to the sheer volume of transactions and demand. Staff are put under a lot of pressure during the festive period, and retailers need to take extra care. When the pressure is on, too often convenience beats security," said Mark Rodbert, CEO of idax and honorary visiting computer science professor at the University of York.
"November and December are the two most important months for the retail industry, and retailers will end up paying a high price of any breach in the year to come," he added.

Colin Prime Moore, CTO of Ultima Business Solutions, is also worried about what could happen to those that have not made security a priority.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday present an ideal opportunity for attackers to strike; business’ IT systems become so overloaded with genuine requests that it’s easier for someone to breach security under the radar. Real customers are creating the diversion that hackers can exploit," he said.

"Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are marketing ploys designed to dramatically increase sales, but they can prove detrimental if a lack of security is in place. The massively increased online traffic and onslaught of customers acts as a diversion, and hackers are able to attack with relative ease, remaining undetected," he added.

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