Channel companies can help their retail partners avoid stress over their e-commerce sites during the holiday season.
Avnet offers five tips to help its channel partners, including solution providers and value-added resellers (VARs), get their retail clients’ e-commerce systems ready for increased demand during the holiday season.
“Our resellers have a lot of customers who are in the commerce business,” said Tony Vottima, senior vice president and general manager, Avnet Services, Americas, Tempe, Ariz. “With the services capabilities that we’ve built over the last couple of years, we have the ability to work with our partners and provide them with these tips and health checks to help prepare their customers for what is their biggest season of the year.”
These tips help Avnet’s solution providers engage their retail clients in conversations about the readiness of their IT systems before the holiday season, said Vottima.
In addition, these conversations open up new opportunities for channel partners. Avnet’s strategy is centered on helping its partners leverage its capabilities to grow their relationships with their customers. “Those capabilities and skills are what we’re trying to help our partners leverage as they talk to their customers,” said Vottima.
“It’s not just from a from a software and services perspective, but ultimately to become a trusted advisor to that customer where they can leverage all the IT acquisitions going on at that company,” he added.
Avnet’s e-ecommerce experts share five key areas that partners should discuss with their retail customers before the start of the holiday season.
1. Determine the “now” normal. Avnet recommends that partners work with their retail clients to check e-commerce sites now so they can immediately recognize problems during the holiday season. Auditing sites will also help them identify small and reoccurring errors that could result in bigger issues during heavy usage. Fixing these problems now can significantly improve site performance during the holiday season, said Avnet. Issues such as broken links and promo codes that don’t work—which on a typical day might not be a major problem for a retail customer—could limit revenue during the holiday rush, said Vottima.
2. Reduce risk areas. Partners should also review retailers’ local and caching strategies to reduce the risk of poor site performance, which could result in customers leaving the site without making purchases because the Web pages are taking too long to load. The assessment should also include infrastructure stability, bandwidth use, network backups and other back-end systems to help identify areas that could negatively affect site performance during increased holiday transactional loads, said Avnet.
3. Optimize channels. Partners should also work with retailer customers to ensure that their Websites can deliver a good customer experience, whether they are coming to the site via a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. This includes incorporating solutions such as responsive Web design (RWD) into retailers’ sites, which allows them to build one set of source code that can be adapted to any new device—smartphones, tablets, desktop browsers, etc.
4. Detect problems early and resolve them quickly. Avnet also recommends that partners provide their retail clients with tools to help IT support teams proactively manage the site during heavy loads. This includes actively monitoring user experiences to identify problems, such as long-running pages and bad promotion codes, as they happen, and to fix them in real-time so they don’t turn into major problems, said Vottima.
5. Check in. Partners should also discuss their customer support team communication strategies. This can be an issue during the holiday season when retailers hire a lot of temporary employees, said Vottima. These employees may not be as familiar with the e-commerce sites as veteran employees. Avnet can provide training to review overall operations with customer support teams to ensure that they are proficient at navigating and working the e-commerce site. Avnet can also provide some tech support to help them onsite.
In addition to the e-commerce experience itself, these conversations offer a lot of opportunities for resellers to provide other services and products such as security solutions or to take some of those opportunities and move them to the cloud, said Vottima. There are also new areas, such as digital signage, that are starting to expand as a result of the retail industry, which is great opportunity for a technology provider today, he added.
Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributing writer, specializes in technology and the channel.