Once a strictly US phenomenon, Black Friday is now a firm fixture on the UK calendar.
And what began life as a day of discounts in physical shops that sparked lengthy queues and fisty-cuffs at the tills has become an online extravaganza of big, pre-Christmas purchases at massively discounted prices. Data from banks suggests consumers spent a staggering £9.2bn over the Black Friday weekend last year, and there’s no sign things will be any different in 2022.
It’s no wonder UK businesses and consumers want in on the action.
UK businesses now start planning their deals and marketing months in advance, with customers enjoying the slow build of anticipation (and plenty of early deals) from the beginning of November.
And it’s not surprising. Because when it goes well, Black Friday can ensure a brand’s bottom line for the following year.
But what happens when things go wrong?
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the risks associated with Black Friday, whether you’re an online retailer or a B2B business providing vital supply chain support, it’s vital to ensure you’re ready to weather the seasonal cyber storm…
When is Black Friday 2022?
This year’s Black Friday falls on Friday 25 November 2022.
It is, however, worth remembering that Black Friday starts as soon as the clock strikes 00:00 on the morning of Friday 25 November, so there will be plenty of shoppers staying up late, ready to start filling their baskets with deals. In fact, research found that as many as 5 million people stay up late to ensure they get the best deals as soon as Black Friday sales go live.
What about Cyber Monday?
Of course, Black Friday has now bled into Cyber Monday too – which this year falls on Monday 28 November.
In years gone by, this was a day dedicated to online shopping deals, following the then more traditional bricks-and-mortar deals of Black Friday. So, we now have a long weekend of pre-Christmas online shopping deals, adding more pressure onto retailers to ensure their IT systems are robust.
More than a retail phenomenon
Black Friday is undoubtedly an opportunity for retail businesses to sell their products and bring their accounts into the black (hence the name) before the end of the calendar year. But that doesn’t mean businesses and organisations in other areas can relax.
The knock-on effect of this annual online shopping splurge is felt across every sector with even the slightest link to the online retail industry. This includes:
Logistics and transportation: Planning and carrying out deliveries, including an increase in the number of brands offering next-day delivery
Packaging: Supplying order fulfilment centres with enough, and replenishing stocks at short notice
Sales and customer service: In-store staff, online help desks and call centres dealing with increased queries, returns and exchanges
Banks and payment services: Accommodating the increased number of customers who are spending, moving and borrowing money
Telecoms: Facilitating the huge surge of consumers shopping via phones, tablets and other devices. Ensuring that point-of-sale technology functions correctly in retail stores
Marketing and PR: Supporting clients in retail and ecommerce to communicate deals, adjusting and updating online marketing collateral, carrying out on-the-day email marketing campaigns
Building services and security: Looking after staff and customers in busy retail stores, ensuring premises comply with all relevant safety legislation
Technology: Putting measures in place so that websites can cope with the surge in traffic, by increasing bandwidth and ensuring cyber security is robust with disaster recovery plans in place.
There’s no limit to the kinds of businesses that need to consider the implications of Black Friday.
How would a Black Friday disaster impact your business?
It’s important to recognise that there are different tech-related issues your business could face over the Black Friday weekend, which is why we like to ensure businesses have planned for these plausible scenarios:
Traffic jams your website
Every year sees Black Friday horror stories reported by retailers who were ill prepared for the sheer number of visitors flocking to their websites. A traffic surge is extremely predictable over the cyber weekend as more customers prefer the ease of online shopping, so much so that big-name brands like John Lewis, Calvin Klein and Ted Baker, have all lost out on sales over the years as their websites struggled to cope.
Mobile proves too much
Most businesses these days are set up for mobile shopping, with optimised, responsive and fast-loading websites that support a decent user experience. Consumer expectations have risen in line with a reduction in their patience, and slow speeds are one of the most common reasons for visitors leaving your site – either immediately, or in the middle of the purchasing process.
Attack of the DDoS
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks pose a very real threat to businesses all year round, but particularly on busy ecommerce days like Black Friday. A DDoS attack can cause huge issues for businesses, including:
- Internet disconnection
- Trouble accessing your website
- Hundreds, or even thousands, of spam emails
- Slow speeds and timeouts
If you find yourself on the receiving end of a DDoS attack on Black Friday and you can wave goodbye to a lot of revenue.
Your money or your data
It’s not just DDoS attacks you need to be prepared for though. Ransomware attacks have been particularly rife over the past 12 months and are part of a cyber crimewave that has seen third-party software providers come under attack to target businesses indirectly.
Recent statistics suggest 73% of all UK organisations had to deal with a ransomware attack in 2021, and the costs of recovering is spiralling into the trillions globally. Nearly a third of all UK businesses are attacked once a week, with figures rising dramatically during busy consumer periods.
DID YOU KNOW? During 2021’s Black Friday weekend, malware attacks spiked by 300% .
How much could a Black Friday disaster cost you?
IT blackouts can cost businesses big time — and not just in terms of sales lost during the downtime. Let’s take a quick look at some of the basic facts:
In the case of website outages, time really is money. An often cited report by IT management company Gartner estimates that the average cost of business downtime is around £4,800 per minute. Every hour your website isn’t working could cost an average of £264,000. When it can take as long as 12 hours to restore critical IT systems, you’re looking at a potentially very costly recovery.
Is a Black Friday connectivity failure something your business can afford?
Find out how much an outage could cost your business, using our FREE Downtime Calculator powered by Zerto
IT outages don’t occur in a vacuum, and it’s surprising how far the financial implications of a Black Friday crash can reach. Indirect costs could include:
- Refunds and compensation payments
- Loss of future revenue
- Overtime costs for staff
- Wasted staff hours: employees x hours out x hourly rate
- Reputation management costs
- Emergency IT assistance
- Investment losses
With consumers increasingly shopping online, you’d be forgiven for thinking ecommerce brands put connectivity at the heart of their operations. But that’s not the case. Many online retailers with slow-loading websites rely on the goodwill of customers to support their business, when in fact a poor website experience will mean shoppers leave the site, with 79% unlikely to ever return. Even if a customer has already added something to their basket, their commitment to an online retailer will be superseded by a bad experience on a slow website, and 27% will abandon a purchase if it’s taking too long.
If you’re a B2B business supporting clients during the Black Friday boom, you are similarly at risk of being abandoned if your operations falter or fail during this critical period. An outage for your business could well mean enormous losses for your clients, and they’re unlikely to forget that.
DID YOU KNOW? It’s estimated that with every second of website latency, conversion rates drop by 4.42%2.
As a business, your brand is your most valuable asset. Once that’s damaged, it can be very hard to repair. If customers have a bad Black Friday experience either on your website, in one of your stores or when they’re relying on you as a core part of their supply chain, they are unlikely to give you another chance.
Here’s a few reasons why:
- A poorly performing website with an unreliable connection isn’t just irritating; it can be a real cause for concern when you’re entering personal data like bank card details. It can lead to customers being charged twice, thinking their order has gone through when it hasn’t (and who wants to ruin a kid’s Christmas because their main present never arrived?), or to them missing out on deals they’re desperate to get
- Black Friday in bricks-and-mortar stores can get seriously hectic. Add any tech-related drama to the mix – such as connectivity issues at the point of sale, or a lag on stock-level data – and you’re adding fuel to the fire
- B2B brands are effectively the foundation of the retail industry: manufacturing, supply, logistics, technology, payment processing solutions – there are so many other businesses underpinning the success of retail brands. If any one of these fails at the crucial moment, it’s going to have a huge knock-on effect for the retail brand, potentially costing them a lot of money. And you can bet they’ll take their business elsewhere next time
And with social media making it so much easier for unhappy consumers to air their frustrations and dissatisfactions to the world, you can guarantee other potential customers will soon be made aware of your business’s shortcomings.
How can you protect your business?
If you know you’re expecting a boom in traffic on the Black Friday weekend – and, let’s face it, there aren’t many who won’t be – give your website the capacity it needs to handle those extra visitors.
Scaling up your hosting capabilities will stand your business in good stead for weathering the Black Friday storm, preventing your site from crashing and ensuring you’ve got the speeds and bandwidth to cope.
You know your business best, but it’s worth getting advice from reputable providers about whether a managed, dedicated or cloud-hosted server will be the best solution for your business during its busiest online periods.
Find out about M247’s enterprise-class dedicated servers.
Ask yourself the right questions
How do you know if you need to shore up your disaster recovery game capabilities ahead of Black Friday? Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you ever tested your current DR plan? Did it work?
- Are your business-critical systems protected?
- What will you do if your primary systems fail?
If you’re not 100% confident in the answers to any one of those questions, it’s time to take action.
Prepare for the worst
We all know the saying: ‘Fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail.’ But with the right planning and protection, Black Friday outages and downtime — and the consequences of such failures – needn’t be a concern.
Whatever your budget, there’s a disaster recovery solution out there to safeguard your business. A reputable DRaaS provider will be able to offer you a completely bespoke and competitively priced package of services that are suited to the way your business works. This could include:
- Full system and application replication (IaaS)
- System failover – multiple/single workload failover and failback ability
- Workload recovery
- Data backup
- Data Management as a Service (DMaaS)
- Managed firewalls
- Cloud mobility (public or private)
- Resilient connectivity
Now’s the time to identify what could go wrong with your business on Black Friday, what it could cost you and what you need to do to prevent the worst from happening — or at least to minimize the impact if it did occur.
Take a look at M247’s flexible and scalable Disaster Recovery Services.
Attack-proof your network
All the evidence suggests Black Friday is a prime time for cybercriminals to ramp up their activity, and all businesses will be at increased risk of DDoS, malware and ransomware attacks.
Investing in a scalable solution to fortify your business against these kinds of attacks is essential, not only for protecting your bottom line, but your infrastructure, applications, network, data and customers too.
Look for an anti-DDoS solution that:
- Mitigates both advanced and hit-and-run attacks
- Absorbs unexpected traffic spikes
- Can scrub data, to pass on only ‘in profile’ data
- Mitigates attacks across multiple vectors
- Gives you round-the-clock access to expert support
Find out more about M247’s flexible and robust DDoS mitigation solutions.
Have a (decent) backup plan
We still come across companies every day that think backup tapes are an adequate recovery method for their business. But consider some of the biggest problems with tape backup, and ask yourself if you really can rely on it:
- Slow access speeds, with no random access to data
- High set-up costs, with ongoing costs for media, storage and management
- Limited scalability – tape is always only a temporary storage measure
- Degradation of media and potential loss of data over time
- Cumbersome to keep updated, with data coming from so many sources and locations
In 2021, 39% of all UK businesses reported suffering some kind of cybersecurity breach or attack, and these attacks are becoming increasing frequent and sophisticated. Protecting your sensitive data by switching to digital or cloud-based backup doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
Choose a provider with secure, dedicated data centres, continuous data backup and a responsive team, and you will get the best protection against data loss.
Find out more about M247’s next-generation Backup-as-a-Service solutions.
Manage your data
Lastly, but still just as important, you have Data Management. Having a third party manage your data in the right way can free up valuable resource internally. As with most cloud-based solutions, the benefits of DMaaS are wide and varied. From enhanced cost management and budget predictability to flexible and scalable capacity, managing data in the cloud brings a whole host of business benefits, including:
- Streamlined interaction: You engage with your chosen MSP to request a new backup or restore, rather than having to learn to navigate the system application. DMaaS is a blackbox service which removes the complexity in operating data solutions
- Data from various sources is centralised: Data can be pulled from file, application, and database servers, as well as from virtual machines and individual devices, to be stored in a centralised database
- Reduced complexity: By consolidating data from all physical sources, servers, cloud solutions and devices into a single platform, data becomes immediately less complex
- Better oversight and accessibility of data: A centralised source of data makes finding and accessing data much easier
- Integrated analytics – With everything in one, cloud-based repository, analytics becomes an automated process, giving businesses access to powerful insights about their data, including where and how it’s being generated, how it’s being used, and by whom it’s being accessed
- Less downtime and data loss: With third-party technical experts regularly monitoring, testing, and patching the infrastructure, there’s a huge reduction in data loss and downtime
- Less waste, more value: Outsourcing data management frees up IT talent and budgets to be spent on technology that supports and speeds up other business processes
- Quick to deploy – DMaaS providers have their solutions built and ready to go, so businesses just need to cherry-pick their services and select a vendor
If you’re a business that creates data (and there aren’t many these days that don’t) and don’t necessarily have the infrastructure, resources, or personnel to keep on top of managing it, then find out more about Data Management as a Service here.
DID YOU KNOW: Data loss is expected to cost the global economy $10.5 trillion by 20254
Get outside help
When things do go wrong, you need a team of experts on hand to repair the damage, and fast. Enlisting the help of external professionals gives your business the best chance of getting back up and running as quickly as possible, with minimum disruption to you, your staff and your customers.
M247 partners with a huge range of brands and businesses across industries of all sizes. We’re industry leaders in business continuity, with:
- Nearly 20 years’ experience
- Global reach and 24/7 support
- A team of experts at your disposal
Whatever Black Friday throws at you and your business, we’re here to help protect your infrastructure, networks, systems and data, so you can carry on serving your customers the way you do best.
Black Friday: it’s the heart of the golden period and retail’s biggest day of the year. And while this year’s is fast approaching, there is still time to make sure your business is prepared. Whether your business operates at the heart of the ecommerce industry or provides vital support on the periphery, a Black Friday tech disaster could cause catastrophic damage to your revenue and your reputation.
Today’s consumer expects a fast, frictionless experience from the moment they land on your website. If they don’t get that they’ll feel no qualms about taking their money elsewhere.
For that reason, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for Black Friday 2022 is to ensure your connectivity is fast and robust enough to support a surge in demand. Shoppers will be flooding to your websites, and with almost all the supporting sales and communication tech requiring an internet connection, investing in reliable, fast and secure connectivity is essential.
Give your business the best chance of success with a reliable, high-performance online infrastructure, a robust disaster recovery plan, and an expert team who can offer 24/7 support.
*AISPs, PISPs and PSD2 in a nutshell…
Since the roll-out of the updated European Payment Services Directive (known as PSD2 for short), banks have lost the monopoly on customer data. New services are appearing on the money management landscape, and these generally fall into two categories: AISPs and PISPs.
- AISPs — or Account Information Service Providers — work by gathering customer account data in one place and offering advice and information services using that data.
- PISPs — Payment Initiation Service Providers — are payment apps. They go a step further and can withdraw money directly from your bank account if you’ve given consent.
There’s no telling how these new services will stand up to Black Friday business, or how customers will use them to manage their activity.