While the idea of planning for Christmas when it is still months away may be unappealing, for those whose businesses tend to experience a boom during the run up to the festive period it is essential.
The retail sector is particularly susceptible to a major influx of business during this season; although, to avoid the inevitable increases that can put a strain on your systems, you need to take action sooner rather than later.
Part of the problem can be that retailers are familiar with traditional practices of preparing for the Christmas rush but are less ready to adapt to modern methods of preparation; for example, you might hire extra sales staff or more workers to man the warehouse in November and December, which is definitely sensible, but what about computer and internet systems? You also need to make sure that your website is prepared for a sudden spike in visitor numbers, or else it could hit a bandwidth bottleneck and leave you with lost sales as customers go elsewhere during the downtime.
Equally important is the thought that call centres will need increased staff numbers and, more significantly, the flexible type of infrastructure that will allow you to incorporate extra employees temporarily without overburdening your systems.
One way to give your business a better chance of fully exploiting the festive season is to invest in cloud computing platforms that will give you on-demand access to increased capacity.
This will let your business website absorb the higher visitor numbers at Christmas and also prove more cost-effective than trying to supply similar levels of provision in-house, which can require costly infrastructure updates that will not be needed in their entirety throughout the rest of the year.
Cloud hosting will help to eliminate bandwidth problems and let you tackle festive orders effectively without breaking the bank.
There are a number of telephony solutions that you might consider in the run up to Christmas. Many businesses choose to roll out additional landline connections so that they can support larger numbers of call centre staff during this time.
Others will invest in VoIP solutions that allow for flexible, digital handling of inbound and outgoing calls.
You might also want to choose a non-geographic number for your business that can be implemented when you initiate a festive ad campaign. This will give your company national reach and it should allow you to win custom from outside of your region in the way that a standard landline number may not.
Like the cloud, you really need to look for a scalable telephony set-up that will compensate for the busy Christmas period and then allow you to return to normal once the tide of retail interest has ebbed.
One feature of these modern IT solutions which will also be beneficial during the winter is the improved business continuity levels.
While adverse weather conditions have regularly blighted businesses over the past few years, firms that are able to allow staff to work from home or to re-route calls to an alternative location will be in a good position to deal with a snow-locked transport network.
In addition, taking support for these vital services out of the premises and putting them in the hands of a remote third party will mean that any disasters which compromise your own business will not hamper your communications.
Readiness is vital in the retail sector if you want to make the most out of this festive season. However, it does mean that plans are put into action early so that there is not a deficit in your preparations towards the end of the year.
This article was written by Daisy Group plc provide business communication and hosting solutions to business throughout the UK. Daisy helps business ensure business continuity across phone systems and network infrastructures through solutions such as cloud computing, VoIP and mobile and remorte working solutions
Our four UK Data Centres in Manchester, Jersey, London and Southampton provide 24/7 support 365 making Daisy the ideal choice for business hosting solutions.