Whether it is selling books, groceries, gadgets or tickets, the
volume of orders being taken online continues to grow. Ensuring
that customers receive a prompt and personal experience, whilst
remaining assured about security, is essential to the ongoing
success of online retail. One of the key challenges for retailers
is the management of the applications that provide up-to-date
information about what's on offer to customers and handle their
orders-especially when there are peaks in demand.
This paper discusses how online retailers can better prepare
their applications for a future of increasing, but often
irregular, demand. It should be of interest to those tasked with
managing online retail applications and those that manage the
revenue streams that rely on them. Executive summary
The rapid growth of online retail puts the applications that
drive retail websites under stress, especially at times of peak
load, when poor performance can lead to frustrated customers and
lost orders. It is also necessary to make sure customers are
confident about security and that they receive a service
customized to their needs when possible. Application delivery
controllers can enable an optimized, secure and personal online
retail experience for all.
Online retail continues to show strong growth despite
the recession, but on the high street demand is not evenly
distributed throughout the year For many European and
US retailers the most obvious shopping peak is before the
Christmas holiday. However, there are many others, such as
charity fund raising events that lead to surges in online
donations or the moment tickets for a particular high profile
entertainment event are made available and fans rush to secure
their tickets from online agencies.
Ensuring an optimal performance at all times for online
customer experience minimizes lost transactions and customer
churn It is easy for online shoppers to go elsewhere.
Even when online visitors are forced to persist, for example
when donating to charities or transacting with public service
providers, if the experience is poor they will leave with a bad
impression and may turn to other, less efficient, channels in
Even online customers expect to receive a personal
experience Loyal customers want to be recognized and
rewarded; even if it is just through being treated with a high
priority. Even new customers can be offered a customized
experience by recognizing something about their location in the
"real world" and modifying the content they are shown
The growth in online retail relies on customers
remaining confident about security The big security
issue with online trading is the safe handling of credit card
information. The payment card industry data security standard
(PCI-DSS) provides the guidelines, but its recommendations are
exacting and can be onerous to comply with.
Application delivery controllers (ADC) can help address
many of the challenges of performance, personalization and
security Advanced ADCs help overcome all three issues.
They ensure sufficient computing resources are available,
balance workloads across those resources, manage traffic to
minimize bandwidth use, act as local data caches, off-load
intensive tasks from web servers, provide geolocation
information, act as web application firewalls and allow the
scripting of rules as to how transactions should be handled.
Offering an unreliable or sub-optimal online service is not an
option in the 21st century. However, performance and availability
are only the start. Those organizations that compete best in the
long term will be those with a reputation for secure trading and
providing their customers with a personal experience that can
exceed that achievable on the high street.
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