How Retailers Can Prepare Their IT Team to Manage the Influx of Mobile Purchases

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How Retailers Can Prepare Their IT Team to Manage the Influx of Mobile Purchases

By Matt Cox - 04/04/2019

The explosion of e-commerce is one of the most dynamic transformations brought on by the Digital Age. Today, of all the trends emerging for retailers, mobile purchases seem to be having the biggest effect on the industry. In 2018, 54% of visits and 30% of purchases on Cyber Monday were made on mobile devices, contributing to the $7.9 billion in online revenue. Whether from a phone or tablet, the traditional shopping experience is being replaced by the speed and convenience of mobile.

As mobile purchases reach an all-time high and e-commerce sites increasingly lean on new technologies, retailers must ensure their internal IT team can successfully manage the operations’ successes and snags. Otherwise, they risk losing the timely appeal they set out to achieve in the first place.

The implications of failing to meet internal IT demands

The boom of mobile purchasing stems from recent trends we’re seeing in consumer behavior. PwC found 80% of consumers rank speed and efficiency as the most influential part of their buying decisions. So retailers who fail to provide a simple, immediate online experience drive customers away – 32% of the same consumers say they would abandon a brand they love after a single bad experience.

As big players like Amazon grow in capability and size, the competition for consumers’ attention tightens. On average, 41% of consumers receive one to two packages from Amazon per week. Creating an error-free customer experience online is one of the only ways smaller retailers can compete.

This demand for smooth sailing during a digital experience puts most of the responsibility on IT employees. But without the proper IT service management system, internal tech problems can quickly arise and go unaddressed past the point of recovery. Consider problems that frequently come up on a retailer’s site – pages take too long to load, images aren’t aligned correctly, shopping carts confuse items or, worst case scenario, the whole site shuts down. If mobile shoppers have difficulty browsing or checking out, they won’t hesitate to abandon their digital carts and move to the next online shop.

To avoid deterring customers, retailers need to empower IT teams with a seamless process, connecting them with their development, infrastructure and quality assurance (QA) teams. If IT can receive prompt responses to issues, it can address service interruptions faster, which in turn empowers employees to deliver better customer support and attracts more customers to the business.

The best practices for managing internal IT teams

As consumers increasingly opt for a digital shopping experience, retailers are investing in more technology for both customer-facing and internal processes. But with new solutions comes a learning curve for most employees, and the volume of IT service requests jumps. Retailers relying on email to communicate performance problems struggle to manage the influx of messages, making it easy to overlook the most timely concerns.

Rather than wait until inboxes overflow during peak shopping seasons, retailers should examine their processes as part of a Continuous Service Improvement (CSI). CSI is a guiding framework of ITIL that suggests improving the delivery of IT services should be an ongoing process. Identifying areas to enhance, like organizational structure, training and management platforms, in the off-season better prepares teams when crises arise in crucial business periods.

In particular, IT service management platforms can remove email from the equation altogether, replacing it with a simple, user-friendly service portal. Most of these platforms integrate with commonly-used messaging apps and collaboration tools, so teams can spend 80% of their work time in the system. Service requests come in the form of tickets, which are automatically tracked and prioritized to ensure no issues are buried or incompleted. This process also adds a layer of transparency to internal processes; each ticket is documented, giving the leadership team visibility into IT issues as they come up.

Increased documentation also creates the opportunity to build a knowledge base from frequently received requests. By identifying patterns, retailers can create templated solutions for the most common problems. Some platforms feature AI capabilities that automatically suggest solutions, freeing up the team’s time to address larger projects. By removing redundancies and streamlining IT service, technicians can prioritize tasks that either most affect the customer experience or put the company in danger of a security breach.

The surge in mobile purchasing gives retailers no choice but to proactively prepare IT teams for the worst. To keep a competitive edge over major e-commerce players, retailers must deliver a flawless customer experience, which is only achievable through the support of a strong IT service.

-Matt Cox, regional vice president at Samanage