Retailers need to be ready for Cyber Monday online surge, experts warn

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Online retailers are bracing themselves for a surge in shopping today, Cyber Monday, but they must deliver a good customer experience, internet experts warn.

Kevin Flood, CEO of social shopping website Shopow, said: “The peak in online Christmas sales has been brought forward to this week, a whole 14 days earlier than expected. The recession and strong demand from consumers hunting for deals online has lead to an all out price war, with many retailers losing their nerve. Amazon fired the first salvo a week ago with the mega sale launch much earlier than anticipated in order to shift their stock.

“We are experiencing a huge surge in demand from consumers hunting for deals and bargains on Christmas presents, we expect a record rise in online spend this Christmas, forced in part by the recession and by ever tightening purse strings; creating an all out nation of bargain hunters.”

According to Flood, Cyber Monday provides a platform for retailers to build on in the run up to Christmas and an opportunity they can’t afford to miss.

However, two web hosting firms, warn of the possible pitfalls from the spike in online demand.

Andreas Edler, managing director at Hostway UK, said: “With the likes of the IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) highlighting UK shoppers will be spending over £7bn online in the run up to Christmas, it is essential retailers are fully prepared for the undoubted surge in web traffic. 

“Many more retailers have now recognised the importance of delivering a good online experience to customers, so have invested heavily in recent years in making their websites both more dynamic and robust. 

“In today’s competitive business environment every sale counts, so a poor online experience can be extremely damaging as customers will simply go elsewhere to get the goods they want. Those retailers that fail to build in sufficient capacity or utilise the latest traffic management techniques run the risk of having an unhappy lead up to Christmas as Mega Monday could turn into Meltdown Monday.”

Dominic Monkhouse, managing director at PEER 1 Hosting, agreed. “Christmas is a key time for online retailers, as more consumers avoid the high-street and turn online for shopping,” he said.

“Today is Cyber Monday, a day when most of us have been paid and hit the web to buy those all-important presents. Customer frustration can be rife and there is no excuse for downtime or pages failing to load. Our online retail clients always need reliability and a good up time guarantee but more so at this time of year, and certainly today.

“We’ve seen a spike in e-commerce customers wanting a hosting provider that support their online sales, this is a positive step for the industry and for all those people wanting a stress free online Christmas shopping experience.”