Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager Middle East at NETSCOUT explains how retailers can achieve peak performance this shopping season and minimize cybersecurity risks.
The holiday season marks the busiest time of year for e-commerce retailers. Sharp increases in online shopping traffic are expected to continue throughout the holiday season, with Insider Intelligence projecting 15.5 percent growth in e-commerce.
The retail industry has navigated various challenges and opportunities in recent years, notably around the Christmas season. With the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, online sales increased. Shipping complications arose when businesses were swamped with internet orders. Network traffic increased as people worked and shopped from home while being digitally connected at all times. Retailers prepared for the internet buying boom during the 2021 Christmas season by learning from the events of 2020. Shipping became more efficient and timelier as distributors adjusted. What will it look like this year?
Providing Seamless Experiences
For the 2022 holiday season, merchants have prepared for new trends. Inflation has hit an all-time high, leading people to tighten their purse strings.
The sophisticated shopper is constantly on the lookout for time-saving, frictionless shopping experiences. Retailers must match buyers’ expectations for high-quality, reasonably priced products delivered quickly. E-commerce is crucial to this efficiency-driven consumption paradigm, with modern customers embracing social media and online shopping sites to address this trifecta of wants.
As a result, merchants must provide a swift and seamless user experience to attract and retain online customers. When order processing times are delayed, or the shopping cart experience is glitchy, companies risk losing potential buyers to the competition in a matter of seconds. Customers abandon their carts due to site crashes and slow processing times. Organizations lose an estimated $300,000 of revenue on average each hour of network downtime, according to a TechChannel report—not to mention the wasted potential for repeat customers because of brand and reputation harm associated with slowdowns.
Retailers must therefore implement network and application performance management solutions that provide complete visibility into essential business services. Maintaining quality performance of the programs that constitute the user’s experience with online shopping comprises deep-packet inspection at scale of web front-end performance and applications supporting inventory searches, product specifications, and credit card authorizations. This enables companies to provide high-quality digital experiences to their customers whenever they visit their websites.
Addressing Security Concerns
A key obstacle that could hinder both the customer experience and retailer operations is cybercrime. Cybercriminals have also benefitted from the rise in online shopping and digital transactions over the holiday season, putting significant pressure on e-tailers who rely largely on this time of year for their annual profits. As the global threat landscape becomes more complex, the question is no more whether an attack will occur but when.
A common attack vector is distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which aim to overload a target’s web services and are among the most popular attack vectors throughout the holiday season.
DDoS is a malicious attempt to interrupt routine traffic to a specific server, service, or network by flooding the target or its surrounding infrastructure with Internet traffic. Cybercriminals also use DDoS extortion attacks to threaten retailers with a DDoS attack unless they pay an extortion demand. Since the holiday shopping season is the busiest for retailers, firms already under severe pressure are more susceptible to such attacks to avoid costly downtimes, financial losses, and reputational harm.
To successfully minimize rising risks, businesses should consider investing in current, comprehensive threat intelligence technology capable of combating many cyberthreats, including DDoS attacks. Furthermore, retailers should test their online infrastructure regularly to verify that any changes to critical digital components are incorporated into an approved DDoS defense plan. In the event of a DDoS attack, this will allow web services to operate largely uninterrupted throughout the peak shopping season.
According to reports, around 91 percent of customers in the MENA region have become digital converts since the outbreak and expect to continue buying online. As a result, the growth and spread of e-commerce transactions show no indications of abating. If retailers want to keep their customers loyal during this busy and competitive shopping season, they must provide superior experiences by implementing the appropriate security and service assurance solutions.