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A retailers guide to preparing for peak season events and the holiday rush.

Technology optimisation strategies for frictionless shopping in the retail customer experience

Preparing for the retail triple threat of Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Christmas - optimising the retail customer experience

As the holiday season draws near, the online retail landscape is gearing up for an unprecedented shopping spree, resisting the gloom of the global economic recessionary outlook. The findings from the latest Adobe report paint a staggering picture for the U.S. online holiday sales, projected to soar to an eye-watering $221.8 billion. Meanwhile, in Australia, the eCommerce landscape is set to witness substantial growth, with sales anticipated to reach $43.21 billion in 2023.

For the Australian market, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become predominantly online events and more than 32 percent of shoppers are expected to participate in some form of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. This retail season continues right through to the New Year. Verticals in technology, consumer electronics, appliances, homeware, activewear, footwear, and fashion emerging are predicted to be the most sought-after categories. This surge is anticipated to be fuelled by factors including major discounts, the rise of mobile shopping, the growing popularity of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options, and an early start to promotional events.

While this season offers a significant opportunity for Australian retailers, the rising trend in e-commerce and consumers’ preference for seamless transactions underscores the need for companies to prioritise a smooth retail customer experience.

In this article, we examine key questions along the customer journey with tips on how retailers can optimise their technology to meet and exceed customer expectations as they prepare for the next sale events. 

 What we’ll cover – Click the link to jump to the answer!

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How retailers can optimise the customer experience for peak season events, Avocado Consulting - deliver with certainty

Zana Stojanovski

General Manager, Business Technology Solutions

Why is the website so slow? Navigating the digital aisles with DevOps practices  

 A slow or unresponsive website is one of the most frustrating scenarios when trying to get online, make a purchase/s and get out of there quickly.  Apart from the impact this has on retailers such as high bounce rates and lost sales, the impact on the customer experience can’t go unnoticed. 

By simulating heavy user traffic, you can identify potential bottlenecks and optimise your website for peak performance.  In addition, infrastructure automation and orchestration allow for the dynamic allocation of resources, such as server instances and databases, to handle increased traffic of visitors. DevOps practices, like infrastructure as code (IaC), enable elasticity that benefits quick and efficient scaling up or down based on demand, ensuring websites can handle the surge. 

 A proactive approach results in a seamless shopping experience, ultimately leading to increased sales and drive a great customer experience- boosting customer loyalty and retention. 

 Avocado specialises in rigorous DevOps practices and performance testing methods. Our services guarantee the speed, responsiveness, and stability of your system under the load of expected user traffic. To get started, we can conduct assessments which provide an indication of your IT maturity in delivery so you can realise the benefits of increased speed and improved quality to deliver fast, safe and secure. We’ve created a mini version of the assessment here – try it out today! 

Is my website performing as expected? Benchmarking to stay on top 

In the competitive digital marketplace, ensuring optimal website performance, especially during peak periods, is crucial. Online retailers must prioritise customer-centric factors such as seamless transactions, data security, and efficient delivery. To stay ahead, benchmarking applications against competitors and establishing a performance baseline is a necessity. 

An effective strategy for gaining a competitive edge is the use of synthetic monitoring tools and integrations, such as our technology partner 2 Steps. These end user monitoring tools continuously test the availability, performance, and functionality of digital assets, ensuring site reliability and an enhanced end-user experience. Synthetic monitoring involves simulating user behaviour through scripted transactions to identify and resolve performance issues proactively, preventing any negative impact on end users. 

By assessing and analysing how an application responds to user requests before actual interactions occur, retailers can implement proactive monitoring. This approach enables the quick detection and resolution of issues, ultimately saving time and money. As end user expectations evolve, staying competitive requires a commitment to monitoring, establishing baselines, and maintaining visibility across interconnected systems.

Avocado’s Managed Services facilitate operational management of your platforms including setup of applications, or for your entire environment. Our clients benefit from additional knowledge, training and flexible support. To discover how your business can maintain a competitive advantage with support across multiple environments, contact us for a free 15 minute consultation. 

How is my order processed/fulfilled? Streamlining fulfilment processes

Efficient order processing and fulfilment that can scale are vital during peak events and seasons. It’s important as many kids (even big kids) are wanting and needing goods now and on-time!  Especially when an item was purchased at a bargain price or the guy with the big red hat is dropping in!   

Retailers need to have the visibility, the real-time data and ability to scale with demand to ensure orders are fulfilled on-time and correctly.  This type of retail experience gains an overall competitive advantage and delivers on the customer expectations.   

 Avocado Consulting’s solutions can enhance the processing and fulfilment of online orders by providing the visibility, integrating real-time data from multiple systems and ability to scale. Learn how we helped Cotton On Group, streamline its order tracking, enhanced their system transparency and delivered updates to their end customers via an intuitive mobile interface. Avocado’s solution not only met operational goals but also facilitated customer self-service, reducing the strain on customer support and enhancing the overall customer journey. Read the case study here. 

How is my order progressing? Inside the customer’s journey with Observability 

In the dynamic world of online retail, achieving seamless operations is paramount. End-to-end Observability plays a vital role, providing real-time insights into every facet of your online store, from website performance to payment gateways.  

By proactively identifying and resolving issues, retailers can ensure a frictionless shopping experience for every customer – no more abandoned carts! This proactive approach pinpoints problems and resolves them before they impact the customer, enhancing overall customer satisfaction and fostering loyalty. 

Moreover, efficient logistics and supply chain management are pivotal for retailers ensuring that every order progresses smoothly from placement to delivery. However, manual processes and fragmented systems often lead to challenges like duplicated deliveries, shrinkage, and revenue loss, even risking brand damage due to excess stock being resold online.  

Avocado enables retailers to enhance operational efficiency, guaranteeing a smooth customer experience and safeguarding brand integrity through Observability. Discover how we supported a prominent furniture and homewares retailer to transition from manual processes and disjointed systems that hindered logistics and supply chain operations to achieving a fully optimised supply chain and logistics management by harnessing their data. 

Am I safe to purchase online? Creating a safe shopping haven 

Online security is a concern for everyone who makes purchases on the internet but it’s also an important issue for Retailers. The behaviour trend of end users is a simple one…if they don’t feel secure in their online shopping experience, they will simply go somewhere else, and this has a direct brand and sales impact. 

Cyber threats are significant in the retail sector. With the Annual Cyber Threat Report 2022–23 developed by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) noting retail trade among the top ten sectors reporting critical incident events in the past year.

Retailers need to take proactive measures to safeguard both their operations and their customers data. It’s crucial to be able to identify scams early, minimise potential damage, and swiftly recover from any potential attacks to ensure the security of their organisation and its customers. The most common attacks for retailers include phishing, malware, ransomware, magecart/E-skimming, third party vulnerabilities, open-source software vulnerabilities and APT as a service.  

To overcome these varying threats requires a holistic approach. Retailers can look at implementing end-point protection, undertaking third party risk assessments, continuous monitoring and DevSecOps 

Like many retail companies responding to digital disruption and cyber risks, our client was exploring how they could engage customers more through digital and online platforms and across multiple touchpoints. Learn how Avocado helped this global ASX listed retail industry player reinvent and secure their omnichannel experience through cyber resilience and uplift. 


What are the purchasing avenue trends? A look beyond the cart 

While retailers can optimise their technology and processes, looking at how they plan for new trends in Customer Experience is vital. Today, customers demanding greater flexibility in how they shop and pay, retailers should be considering how they adapt to the latest technology trends including mobile functionality and payment integrations. 

Mobile-friendly shopping experiences are no longer an option but a necessity. With mobile devices expected to drive over half (51.2%) of all online spending this holiday season, optimising your online store for mobile is key.  

Avocado Consulting specialises in developing responsive and intuitive mobile interfaces. By ensuring your website is mobile-friendly, you can capture a wider audience and significantly boost your sales.  

Embracing Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) Options also offers a unique opportunity for retailers to cater to the evolving preferences of customers. According to Adobe’s survey, one in five respondents plans to use BNPL for holiday gifts, indicating a growing market that retailers can tap into. Avocado Consulting can seamlessly integrate BNPL solutions into your checkout process, providing customers with the flexibility they desire while ensuring secure transactions.  

Leveraging the latest in retail experience trends begins with partnering with the right provider who can help navigate the complexity while ensuring it meets your specific business needs.  

Final thoughts 

As the annual events and holiday season approaches, retailers must align their strategies with what customers expect, with the latest industry insights and technological advancements. Early preparation for prime shopping events is key. With Avocado Consulting’s expertise in emulating user journeys, streamlined fulfilment processes, rigorous performance testing, and end-to-end observability, you can ensure your online store not only captures the attention of holiday shoppers but also converts them into loyal, satisfied customers.   

Foster brand loyalty that lasts beyond the festive season.

Don’t just meet customer expectations; exceed them. Talk to Avocado Consulting today to make your holiday season the most successful one yet.

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