Reimagining Retail Incident Response for the Holidays

retail incident response

The holiday season is here, and global retailers are prepared for the biggest retail event of the year. The decrease in new COVID-19 cases, coupled with a rise in vaccination rates, provides a glimmer of hope for shoppers looking to spend for friends and family. Holiday spending is expected to break previous records this year, growing up to 10.5 percent over 2020. 

With spending expected to grow exponentially this season, it is imperative that retailers are well prepared for any critical, unexpected event that can impede the holiday shopping experience. This post provides a checklist of measures that IT retail teams must consider to improve their retail incident response and deliver uninterrupted digital experiences for shoppers.

Forecast for the 2021 Holiday Season

As discretionary income rises, and the job market rallies at an unprecedented rate, consumer confidence levels have reached an all-time high. Neither the supply chain slowdown nor rising inflation has impacted consumer perception of current conditions and expectations of a thriving future.     

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According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the 2021 holiday season has the potential to experience an unprecedented growth in retail sales. The growth in sales over the previous period looks bright, with revenues forecasted to increase between 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent over last year. This is music to the ears of retailers that can deliver a 24/7, continuously available website.

How the Pandemic Propelled Online Shopping

Retailers have been experiencing a quantum shift in the way shoppers engage with them since the start of the pandemic. More specifically, online shopping has seen an accelerated pace of adoption, growing at a rate that would’ve otherwise taken years to achieve. Ecommerce shoppers expect a seamless, glitch-free shopping experience this season, and retailers must consider adopting best practices to strengthen the online buyer’s journey.

Costs of Keeping Online Retail Always On

It is estimated that system outages on a regular day cost retailers an average of $700,000. Holiday sales prove to be more expensive, costing some retailers significant losses of $11 million per minute. Incidents like “website down” or “server overload” may accrue millions of dollars in lost revenue due to cart abandonments and poor website experiences.

As shoppers head into the holiday season, the retail industry must address a building pressure to ensure the availability and reliability of digital infrastructures that support eCommerce strategies. 

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How Retailers Can Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Season

Retailers can sidestep system outages and ensure a glitch-free shopping experience across all channels this holiday season. By following the checklist of items described below, retailers can stay ahead of the curve in solving any issue that may occur during peak sales.

Test Website Capacity

Electronic commerce presents an opportunity for retailers to expand their customer base by offering an unparalleled online experience that includes:

  • Faster site loading times
  • Easy checkout experiences
  • Seamless access to loyalty rewards

When retailers do not plan for high volumes of traffic, they are more likely to suffer slow speeds, and even worse, critical website outages.    

Moving to the Cloud

The retail sector remains fluid with consumer trends shifting at an accelerated pace. This puts unimaginable pressure on IT as it tries to keep up with inaccurate demand forecasts. When retailers experience an unplanned surge in traffic, moving to the cloud becomes instrumental in ensuring that customers do not experience poor loading times and system unavailability. With cloud-based technology, in contrast to on-premises servers, retailers can instantly allocate more resources toward a website with just one click of a button. 

Develop a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

A website going down in the middle of a sales event, or a broken product page can cost retailers lost opportunities, such as shopping cart abandonments that lead to revenue loss. This underlines the importance of putting business continuity, disaster recovery and retail incident response at the forefront of strategic decisions during the holiday shopping season.

A business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan enables retailers to develop resiliency and minimize the impact of adverse events on crucial IT infrastructures. With BC/DR planning, retail organizations have an effective, orchestrated way to resolve service outages and build employees’ muscle memory during incidents.

How OnPage Helps Retailers Maneuver Digital Pressures

Retailers aiming to deliver continuous availability across payment gateways, websites, mobile applications, logistics and order management, must consider adopting an incident alert management platform. The OnPage alert management system allows IT retail teams to automate retail incident response, alleviate alert fatigue and minimize engineer burnout. 

With OnPage’s automated alerting platform, IT team leaders have access to a digital, fail-safe scheduler that is natively integrated to an alerting solution. Based on configured on-call schedules and escalation policies, the right engineer automatically receives a loud, persistent, real-time mobile alert when an incident is detected. Retail incident response automation gives engineers the means to immediately respond to critical issues. 


As retailers face heightened pressure to keep their digital ecosystems functioning, OnPage provides relief by modernizing the entire resolution process for IT responders and addressing their challenges in scaling up incident response during the peak season. The end-to-end incident response system provides the right capabilities to perfect incident response plans for retailers across the globe.

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