Today, Rackspace® Hosting (NYSE: RAX), the open cloud company, released findings from its recent national survey of more than 100 e-commerce decision-makers about plans for keeping online business rolling through the holiday season. The vast majority (81 percent) of the CIOs, CTOs and IT chiefs surveyed by Rackspace in September and early October are taking steps to improve the online shopping experience for this year’s holiday season. For example, they are increasing computing capacity, redesigning web sites and taking additional steps to address security concerns.
The stakes are high as the economy struggles to emerge from its slump, with 46 percent of respondents saying they expect this year’s online holiday sales in November and December to be better than last year, and 45 percent saying they expect sales to be about the same. Some 29 percent of the respondent e-retailers are hiring more seasonal workers this year compared to 2011’s holiday season, while 7 percent say they will hire fewer.
Web site downtime is expensive
According to the survey, one of the biggest challenges looming in e-retailers’ minds is website downtime, with 77 percent taking steps to reduce or eliminate website downtime this holiday season. Last year, downtime posed a problem for 18 percent of respondents, with losses typically ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to tens of millions. Almost half (45 percent) of the respondents estimate they would lose between $500,000 and $5 million if their company’s e-retail site went down for a single day during the season.More than a quarter (28 percent) of retailers with online sales who responded to the Rackspace survey are working with their third-party hosting provider to make sure customers can keep shopping online during high-traffic periods. “Many online retailers have found out the hard way in 2011 that their internal IT systems and resources weren’t ready to handle large spikes in holiday sales,” said Adrianna Bustamante, who works in commerce channel development for Rackspace. “With 45 percent of retailers expecting holiday sales to grow this year, it is important that retailers take steps to improve the online shopping experience and reduce or eliminate downtime during the all-important holiday season.”