Google research looks at continuity and resilience in the retail sector

Published: Tuesday, 22 December 2020 09:38

For many retailers, websites have been more important than ever this year as pandemic-hit consumers turned to ecommerce in preference to bricks-and-mortar shopping. In turn, website performance has never been more important but new research for Google shows that downtime is an increasing issue.

To understand COVID-19’s impact on the retail industry Google recently commissioned The Harris Poll to survey retail executives and better understand the challenges and opportunities retailers face. Key findings included:

Business continuity a weak area

As with most industries, COVID-19 took most retailers by surprise, ‘exposing massive weaknesses in their infrastructure’, according to the research. Less than half of retail executives globally (43 percent) felt that their companies were properly equipped with the right technological tools to maintain business continuity in the early stages of the pandemic. And those concerns have not disappeared. Looking ahead, only about half of retail executives (51 percent) say their company overall is very prepared to deal with the shifting retail landscape that has taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Website performance and downtime

Nearly 1 in 5 (17 percent) of global respondents said they experienced a website outage within the last year, compared to 10 percent the year before. Downtime is often associated with traffic spikes and, overall, more than 3 in 4 retail executives (77 percent) mentioned their company’s website has experienced an outage at some point during peak holiday traffic.

However, despite these concerns, retailers have adjusted through the use of technology. With more shopping happening online than ever before, retailers have prioritized their ecommerce sites to keep businesses running. Executives globally feel their ecommerce sites (60 percent) and IT teams (59 percent) are now ‘very prepared’. 

Supply chain complications become retailers’ biggest worry

Nearly all retail executives (94 percent) say that COVID-19 related concerns are still ‘keeping them up at night’. Specifically, supply chain issues (46 percent) and being able to fulfill orders on-time (45 percent). 

Retail executives universally agree (95 percent) that, in this day and age, online retailers need an efficient supply chain to provide products to customers in a timely manner.

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