I would imagine most days during the year, brick and mortar retail locations service a small percentage of their buildings’ max capacity. By that I mean on any given day, the physical capacity of a store is rarely tested.
Shoppers shuffle through, browsing at their leisure and buying when the merchandise and price align. But, rarely are stores absolutely packed to the gills. There are certainly sales that will bring shoppers out, but stores aren’t designed for max capacity all day every day.
But, that doesn’t mean stores can assume a similar level of traffic every day. The best retailers, like the Boy Scouts, are always prepared. If you have an unexpectedly high traffic day, but your sales staff or infrastructure isn’t prepared for it, your store will lose out on untold amounts of business from long lines, staff help unavailability, or general shopper frustration. As is true in every industry, great employees make great companies, and it’s every bit as true in retail.
Likewise, the best retailers don’t just prepare their staffs and infrastructure for unexpected blips in sales; they prepare for the deluge that comes with big dates — think Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. The best retailers use data and analytics to predict traffic, increase staff accordingly, elongate hours, etc. when the time calls for it. I’ve even been shopping and witnessed sales staff enter information into her point-of-sale terminal on the weather outside to track what kind of days improve sales so the store can prepare accordingly.
That’s what Christmas shopping can teach your enterprise about mobile.
When it comes to digital services, on most days, your applications won’t occupy anywhere near your network’s max capacity. Nor will your customers or employees be using the majority of your backend, database, server bandwidth, etc. But, there’s one HUGE consideration you must be thinking about as a digital firm in the 21st century — nothing is more damaging to credibility or business than down time. Mark Zuckerberg’s now famous obsession with never allowing Facebook to go down served his company remarkably well.
That kind of track record is accomplishable only through a commitment to data, analytics and subsequent action. An obsession with preparedness allows companies to predict stresses on their respective systems, preempt those negative effects and continue on with business as usual.
When you’re building mobile solutions, you have to think not only in terms of what they will need or consume in terms of human or technological resources in a given day, but rather what they could possibly consume at a time of great stress. Generally, except in times of attempted hacks, network stress is a sign many people are trying to use your service — that’s almost always good. But, if you can’t handle that traffic without crashing, you’re doing it all wrong.
Bottom line? You have to build your apps and their supporting systems with peak demand times in mind such that your mobile solution can predict, react and handle any increased stress on your systems while delivering a seamless user experience to all your customers.