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In 2014 Cyber Monday sales shattered previous records, increasing by 17% year-over-year from 2013 for a record $2.04B. This year sales are expected to continue trending upwards. This means more shoppers, more transactions, more data, and less bandwidth.

Retailers all over the country prepared for this day for months, looking to maximize revenue. From releasing marketing and advertising materials to optimizing bandwidth for consumers, retailers must make sure nothing slows sales or jeopardizes the optimal window of time they have to capture shopper’s attention. Thankfully with the advancement of cloud technology and data analytics, retailers have become more efficient during these business-critical times.

There are three major areas where data analytics in the cloud are helping businesses during the holidays:

Enabling Sales Agility

Thousands of retailers are competing to give the best deals possible and drive the most traffic to their respective sites. Deep discounts and offers for free shipping are all tactics used to lure consumers in and lead them to purchase. In order to execute them effectively, businesses need to be able to communicate with in-store employees and customer service agents simultaneously, across all of their store locations. With the use of the cloud businesses are able to ensure the have the latest materials in all of their locations, keeping every part of the organization in sync and up to date.

If a retailer plans to run a special to offer a TV at $199, it is likely that the TV will fly off the shelves and inventory will become depleted very quickly. It is important for the company to be able to communicate with their teams on the ground when the next possible shipment will be available and also provide comparable alternatives. The cloud allows companies to keep their employees armed with up to the minute updates to keep customers happy. This will not only help current sales but it will also create a positive experience for the customers which can lead to future sales.

Securing Customer Data

With sales activity at its peak, protecting customer data is paramount. Retailers are responsible for securing thousands, possibly even millions, of personal bits of information that usually includes financials like credit cards, social security numbers or bank accounts. With recent security breaches at major big box stores it is important for retailers to ensure proper protocols and procedures so consumers can confidently shop online. By leveraging the cloud and data analytics, as well as encryption, retailers will be better equipped for potential threats.

Some retailers choose to store customer data in the cloud. There may suddenly be an abnormal increase in download activity, which may put data at risk. With a visual view of data analytics, IT can easily spot abnormal activity in real-time and react quickly, halting all activity within their cloud environment. This will stop any threat in its tracks and ensure the safety of their information

Creating Actionable Intelligence

Naturally, with the exponential increase in web traffic and sales, retailers need to make sure they can handle a sudden influx of data. If a business cannot handle traffic efficiently and they experience an outage on Cyber Monday, it can result in a significant hit to their revenue – just ask Best Buy.

By leveraging the cloud and data analytics, businesses can make room for all the new data and build their infrastructure to handle the volume of traffic.

Handling Increased Sales Volume

Beyond handling volume, Cyber Monday retailers receive a massive spike in actionable data they collect from their customers buying patterns. With data analytics they can determine exactly what people are shopping for, what deals are the most effective, which locations need more attention, etc. This kind of information has been hard to analyze in the past, but with the technology available to them today they have this actionable intelligence at their fingertips – giving them more control over their business than ever.

While the cloud has proven to be valuable for retailers all year round, it has become increasingly valuable during the holiday season – specifically the Black Friday & Cyber Monday shopping period. However, this season businesses will need more than just the cloud to maximize their efforts. Data and analytics will be the new “must haves” for optimal performance during this historically busy time. Understanding data, visualizing analytics, and creating actionable intelligence will create massive improvements in operations and security this year. Businesses will now be able to focus on generating sales and maximizing profits, versus fighting fires.