Online shopping

It’s a kind of digital stress test for retailers. Stores stand to make £5 billion over the Black Friday period, but it is also an example of digital disruption.

Duncan Tait, head of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA says that Black Friday is a timely reminder of the shift caused by digital disruption. Consider Amazon. In a recent study, carried out by Fujitsu Americas, when asked which organisations business leaders across the world saw as digital leaders, Amazon occupied the top slot.

Mr Tait said: "More than almost any other sector, retail has been turned upside down by digital. With the emergence of e-commerce" and Amazon "retailers were forced to adapt or die. “

He says that even Black Friday itself has been digitally transformed and that the day has shifted from being mainly an in-store event to an online-first experience; “meaning that for retailers the pressure is now two-fold: how to manage footfall as well as how to maintain secure access online.”

Mr Tait added: “This recognition of the need to adapt is reflected in today’s landscape. Retail is one of the leading lights in digital. As a sector, it understands the need to transform to create new value at enormous speed; and many know that if they are to remain a success they cannot exist in their current form in even just a few years.

“Yet, there is still more to be done. Digital transformation is happening ever faster and Black Friday will be the digital stress test for retailers. Shops will face unprecedented traffic in-store and online, alongside a whole host of pitfalls from payments fraud and websites crashing to hacking. For those prepared, the rewards are huge; it is estimated that £5 billion will be spent over five days, while long-term customer loyalty – and therefore future success - is also on the cards.”

Rupal Karia, managing director for retail and hospitality, UK and Ireland, Fujitsu said that retailers can’t escape it. “Black Friday [is] a challenge,” he said. But then added: “with the right preparation and technology to handle the influx in custom, retailers should consider it an opportunity."

First off, he said there is point-of-sale. “Retailers need to make sure that their point of sale systems are updated with modern technology,” he said, giving as an example how “equipping staff in-store with mobile devices that enable them to take payments on the shop floor will reduce queuing, speed up the checkout process.”

He then turned to omnichannel offerings, saying that retailers “should have been testing their web and mobile sites rigorously in the months prior to ensure that they are well equipped to handle high volumes of traffic, as any outages will cause shoppers to go elsewhere.”

He added: “Additionally, retailers should have a holistic view of all their inventory so need to have a network system that aligns stock in-store, online and in their warehouses in order to manage their product during the busiest time of the year.”

Finally, Paul McEvatt, senior cyber threat intelligence manager in UK & Ireland at Fujitsu focused on cyber security. "Phishing attacks increase as much as 336% around Black Friday," he said.

He warned that "both customers and employees are more at risk to email, text and social media scams than ever before."

As for the fix? He had three pieces of advice: Train employees to be on high alert, implement real-time security to detect hackers and equip your website to deal with large amounts of traffic.

“Retailers know that consumers will be rushing to websites to get the best deals possible,” he said, adding “whether there is an accidental DDoS attack caused by this influx of traffic or malicious DDoS attacks taking websites offline, retailers are at huge risk of losing a huge amount of revenue if an attack is successful. Ensuring DDoS mitigation tools or services are in place, active and optimised is a priority for any e-commerce provider.”