We’ve recently become concerned about the huge number of retailers suffering from chronic platform stress (CPS), a debilitating condition with varied symptoms that stems from platform management issues. It has reached a critical point, and we believe that unless decision makers act now, the industry will be faced with a CPS epidemic in the near future. Of course we want to avoid this at all costs, and we are aware of many suffering in silence, unaware of the help and advice that’s available to deal with the problem.
With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to shine some light on this rarely spoken about and largely misunderstood condition.
We know that feelings of isolation very often lead sufferers to give up and invest in a new platform, thinking that the issue lies there. Sufferers must understand that the platform isn’t necessarily the cause of the condition. It is the implementation that is critical – if that hasn’t been done well, then CPS is almost inevitable - even if you are using industry-leading platforms such as Demandware or SAP Hybris.
The symptoms of chronic platform stress can be complex and vary greatly from retailer to retailer. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. But in most cases, symptoms increase in intensity over time. The most common symptoms of chronic platform stress include:
- Experiencing pain when making simple changes to the website
- Feelings of helplessness when budgeting for website upgrades
- Frustration over slow-loading websites
- Extreme anxiety during - and in the run-up to - peak trading periods
- Inability to maximise the full platform feature set
- Not knowing who to call when problems arise, resulting in tension headaches
- Feeling out of control when dealing with third-party providers
- Sluggish online growth
There is no single cause of chronic platform stress. Different retailers develop the condition for different reasons, and it has several triggers. Some of the most common causes of chronic platform stress include:
- Not using an enterprise agile development methodology
- Poor project scoping and documentation
- Slow, manual QA testing processes
- Insufficient preparation for peak trading periods and new releases
- Not having a single SLA or point of contact for the site
- Inadequate preparation and testing around releases
- Being reactive rather than proactive to systems and incident monitoring
Treatments & therapies
The type of treatment is based on symptoms and their severity, as well as the underlying cause(s). Treatment recommendations might include:
- Product training
- Peak trading support
- Conducting an in-depth performance review
- Putting into place a single SLA
- Proactive monitoring and 24/7 support
- Comprehensive project scoping and release management
- Implementing an automated QA and testing process
- Adopting an enterprise agile methodology
It’s alarming to see how common the symptoms are throughout the retail community. It is crucial to select the right partner to identify the issues and move quickly to implement a plan for rapid resolution. The lack of knowledge surrounding it is simply perpetuating the problem. The complexities of online business can mask the real issues facing a retailer, thereby inhibiting early detection and delaying resolution. Smart retailers will seek immediate treatment from proven experts to enjoy a long, profitable future.