OpinionWhy is Retail 'Peak' even more important this year?

PMC Head of Service Delivery - Managed Services, Matthew McDonnell, shares his thoughts on why the 2021 Retail Peak period is especially important for retailers. 

"The 2021 Retail Peak period is especially important as retailers attempt to regain ground lost to prolonged periods of closure due to Covid restrictions over the past 18 months. This year more than ever, the role of the managed services provider is to maintain an absolute focus on the performance of Support Services that are provided to retail customers pre-, during and post peak.

For some months, retailers have been gearing up to meet the anticipated increased demand over Black Friday and the Christmas period. Peak season can feel like organisational change and should be treated as such. Operational demands on retailers are materially different as they prepare to maximise revenue during the period."

Early preparation and key tasks

"Planning for the Retail Peak period can begin as soon as the previous Peak ends. There’s an opportunity to gather findings and carry out lessons-learned sessions. If these are revisited the following August, it offers a head start when preparations then begin in earnest during September.

Come November, service providers should be fully prepared, having engaged with customers to produce a clear picture of their planned activities during Peak. It’s important for service providers and retailers to work closely together to ensure that the support in place fully meets customer expectations.

During this period, some retailers may benefit from a service uplift. Our experience is that many PMC customers specify additional requirements or longer hours of support, and these are all tested pre-Peak to ensure readiness.

For Managed Service providers, the key tasks performed ahead of Peak should include:

  • Analysis and forecasting of expected incident volumes based on previous year trends, ramping up resource levels accordingly
  • Refresher training of both technical and soft skills
  • Review of key processes, e.g., Global and Major Incident
  • Review and publication of internal and external communication matrix and escalation paths
  • Publication of shift rotas across the support teams, enhancing resource levels at key times
  • Review of internal KPI reporting
  • Internal communication of the heightened importance of this year’s peak period for retailers

During Peak, retailers should expect their Managed Services Team to undertake a daily review of all activities, and be able to react swiftly to a customer’s changing support ticket volumes."

How has PMC helped our customers prepare for Peak?

"Early preparation has been key for all retailers to ensure support, systems, stock, staff and store layout are ready. Regular testing of back-end systems and functionalities has been another critical step in the preparation process. Volume performance tests have helped identify potential problem areas well in advance and provided time to correct any issues before demand spikes.

At PMC, we have worked with customers to understand what they have planned, how we support that and where we can add value. Key areas have included plans for specific events or large-scale promotions; validation of issue escalation paths; any change freeze periods during peak; testing of rarely-used kit and additional reporting requirements. 

Any additional services that customers only require during Peak have also been tested to ensure resilience. This has been done through database Health-checks, implementation of our Standard Peak Uplift Service, which expands a current cover time and KPIs at Level 1 Support, or set-up of an overflow service for a clients' internal L1 Helpdesk."

Need help?

There's still time for retailers to ensure that all preparations are in place. The shared priority for service providers and retailers must be to maximise retail revenues and deliver the exceptional level of customer service that shoppers will be expecting over the next month or so. If you would like to speak with PMC about additional services available in response to the demands of Peak, please reach out to Matthew McDonnell via LinkedIn, or contact PMC on +44 (0)1235 521900.

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