Block title


Black Friday – High Risk: High Reward

- Advertisment -

By Howard Feldman, Head of Marketing & People at Synthesis.

Howard Feldman, Head of Marketing & People at Synthesis.

Black Friday is what happens when the dangerous mixture of anxiety and excitement is blended in a retail test tube. Although we might think that we know what is going to happen, the result is almost never as predictable as we would like it to be, with the risk that it might all blow up always a possibility. Each year in the build-up to the day, both consumers and suppliers deal with the fact that things can go horribly wrong..

For the consumer it is the fear of overspending, of losing out on a deal or of purchasing the wrong item from the wrong seller. For suppliers it is the fear that there won’t be a return on the considerable marketing budget, that the buyers will go elsewhere or that something will fall over and will cause considerable reputational damage.

There is hardly a supplier who sleeps easily and who is without concern in the weeks leading up to the day of Black Friday. The attempt this year to spread the event over a few weeks might provide some respite but there is no moving away from the day itself. What has undoubtedly complicated it further this year is COVID-19, and the very obvious impact that the pandemic has had on consumer behaviour. This has been exacerbated by the limited and contradictory information they might have received in that regard. These factors include:

  • the knowledge that most shopping will be moved online to avoid crowds.
  • many potential consumers have lost jobs and might have less disposable income.
  • others, who have remained employed, have not been able to go on holiday will have spent little on entertainment, and therefore might have more liquidity than in prior years.

What this means is that retailers need to be prepared for all eventualities. According to senior cloud and dev-ops engineer at Synthesis, Jonathan Sidney, there are ways that companies can win at Black Friday. He has used the second way of devops – fast and continuous feedback – as a guide.

  1. Black Friday gets chaotic and operations teams risk being overloaded by the amount of data and metrics that monitoring systems can generate. Companies need to isolate and define which metrics relate directly to customer experience and monitor those more carefully. For example, if customers start complaining about slow response times on certain web pages, the seller needs to be able to isolate what it causing this slow-down. It is not good enough to just see that the systems are under stress – knowledge of the cause of that strain and how it affects your end users becomes critical.
  1. Companies need to already know how the system reacts to unexpected loads. It is advisable to run smoke tests and load tests of each environment. It is especially easy when using infrastructure as code and the cloud to scale up development environments to the same level of production. Then, using tools such as Bees with Machine Guns and JMeter can test where the system could face bottlenecks. This will allow scale of services to intelligently (as well as pre-emptively) fix any possible issues.
  1. Finally, metrics are only useful when they are actually used. If they are just being used to satisfy some external requirement, then they are not worth anything. Teams need to be able to see the metrics and respond to outages/performance issues based on these metrics. Enable your teams by giving them access to front-end tools such as Grafana and Kibana and let them respond intelligently and scientifically to the Black Friday load.

There are also simple methods that consumers might consider in order to maximise the day:

    1. Add items to your cart ahead of time in order not to miss out.
    2. Sign up early for newsletters in order to become knowledgeable.
    3. Shop online, not instore, to avoid crowds.
    4. Stay connected via social media as many retailers and e-tailers give away prizes and additional discounts.

What is clear is that for both consumers and suppliers, Black Friday is a high risk, high reward day. In order to reduce the risk, it is critical to be as prepared as possible so that when excitement and anticipation meet, the result is a happy customer and a successful seller.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest articles

The fourth wave of cloud is imminent

  Lori MacVittie, Principal Technical Evangelist, Office of the CTO at F5 The first wave of cloud saw organisations sprint to it, lured by promises of...

Fast IO-Link Encoders with COM3

Encoders with the latest and fastest IO-Link interface are now available with a transfer rate of 230.4 Kbit/s, thus enabling a considerable improvement for...

SA innovation: delivering life sustaining oxygen efficiently

 A group of South African doctors, engineers and designers based in East London has invented and developed a medical device that revolutionises oxygen delivery...

The slow-motion AI explosion

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for years. It has crept into systems and solutions with determined, algorithmic intensity, and it has layered its...

Mastermind behind Android Malware returns with a new RAT

There are over 3,5 billion smartphone users worldwide, and it is estimated that over 85% of those devices – around three billion – run...

Telkom withdraws part of spectrum court application

Telkom has decided to withdraw Part A of the court application.  Last month it launched a court application in respect of the Invitation To...
- Advertisement -

Time to join the ML adaption curve

Machine Learning (ML) has become more commonplace in enterprises as the number of areas where it is effective grows. “If your organisation or vertical...

5G spreads Covid-19 virus a myth

ICASA said that the claim that 5G is spreading Covid-19 is a myth. The Authority would like to urge all South Africans not to...

MTN best mobile network according to MyBroadband research

MyBroadband Insights has released the 2020 Mobile Network Quality Report, which shows that MTN has the best mobile network in South Africa. The report...

Attacks targeting healthcare organisations spike globally

At the end of October 2020, Checkpoint  reported  that hospitals and healthcare organisations had been targeted by a rising wave of ransomware attacks, with...

The digital sensor age is here

With the adoption of an ever-growing digital world, Danfoss Industrial Automation has repositioned itself as Danfoss Sensing Solutions, representing the union of application-driven sensor...