Newsletter #79 : Black Friday

February 15, 2021
  CTO ACADEMY  India … here we come!

Busy week for the CTO Academy team as we count down the days towards Christmas and the conclusion of an extraordinary year ….Our careers team in particular have hit the ground running and working with clients and candidates around the world – here is Andrew working very hard (so he likes us to believe) in catching up on the news. Last week, we prepared you for the announcement today that we’ve started our expansion program into India with the arrival of Avinash Tolle to the CTOA family. Avinash joins us from Bangalore and will be heading up our careers and business development in that region.

Speaking of which, if you would like our Careers team to support you in bagging an interview or role of your choice then you can get started now. We were also asked to take part in the The Global CTO Survey 2020 Report with STK Next released this week, which recorded the views of 250 CTOs from around the world. Reflections of a remarkable year and plans for the future ahead.

Lest I forget, I was recently featured on the The Dots’ 2020 list of 100 Black trailblazers. Which was an absolute privilege.In the meantime, let’s get you ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.Happy and safe weekend everyone.Adobera Ejikeme
[email protected]
TIPS & TRICKS  Can Your Systems Cope During Black Friday?

Covid-19 has managed to cancel every major event of 2020 but thankfully not this one. Ometria reported that the number of on-site visits from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in recent years was 150% higher that in an average 4-day period on sites. This year is going to be even busier online due to the restrictions of buying in store.If you are involved in online retail whether B2B or B2C then this is going to be one of the times that your systems will be pushed to their limit. 40% of customers will leave a site that doesn’t load in 3 seconds, is your site at risk of losing customers? That’s why, I’ve gotten our Co-Founder and CTO Jason Noble to share from a technical perspective some of the lessons he learnt while working for an e-commerce business that had about 10k live SKUs. 

1) Test your server load capacity
We were running hosted Magento with a distributed MySQL backend and limited caching due to the dynamic of the website. On normal days, it would operate seamlessly but when it was stress tested the system would have indeterministic errors. Our testing was more rigorous than the experts managing the installation. (Turns out that the MySQL distribution settings were not correct.)Lesson: We did not take our supplier’s word for reliability and tested ourselves. This prevented any real world issues for customers.

2) Check Coupons/Vouchers/Discounts codes are working correctly
Make sure that someone is checking that codes are working and that they give the right discount. We had a code set up that was supposed to give 10% off but turns out it gave 90% off. There were a few red faces in the office!

3. Ability to support enquiries
Your potential customers may have questions in the process of buying. You need to make sure that you handle them efficiently so that the customer has confidence to buy.On top of our website, we used different channels including Amazon and a few on eBay. We rolled out 2000 products over a weekend without taking into account the queries from customers. Let’s just say that Monday was spent answering questions by the whole team.

4. Distribution Capability
From your warehouse to your delivery partners, you need to make sure that the technology is in place to support them with the increase in demand. This might be as simple as getting extra staff in to help with packing at the warehouse.

5. Efficient Returns Process
A pain for reporting is that your sales can be an overestimate of reality if you have a reasonable amount of returns. This is more prevalent in the fashion B2C. To keep your customers coming back, you need to have an efficient process but watch out for those customers who are abusing the system.

6. Unlisted stock
Stock sitting in a warehouse will not sell if it is not on the website! This may seem obvious but I had to change our processes so that new items were added quickly as we had a batch of items sitting in the warehouse for days.

7. Escalation procedures
“Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the mouth.” At the busy times when something goes wrong, your escalation processes need to kick in. If they don’t exist, you don’t even have a plan. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

8. Extra staff
The company may take on extra staff over busy periods and you need to make sure that onboarding and security protocols are followed. It is very tempting to bypass in busy times but they are there to protect your brand and customers’ data.

9. Freeze none critical releases
Stating the obvious but do not update any live systems before a busy period unless it is critical. Work can still carry on but plan to release when things have quietened down.

10. Personal life
Warn your loved ones that your work may need you over the busy period. Get your colleagues to do the same.Your ecommerce traffic will be driven by digital marketing, ad clicks and the deals. If you have estimated the number of shoppers correctly, then you should have a stress free period with 100% uptime.
POLICY & POLITICS  A Biden Administration On European TechWhilst we have a global customer base, we’re located here in Europe and as Biden starts his transition phase (despite some resistance!) many publications here are considering what this could mean for European tech.Biden has stated that he wants to reset the US relationship with top allies so we are on to a good start. Although, it’s not clear if on the topic of digital taxes the US and European countries can come together. One opportunity for European tech is Biden’s promise to reform the H-1B visa system. Allowing US tech giants to employ engineers and developers from overseas. Although, it doesn’t matter at the moment given the travel restrictions.Let’s not forget that he is coming to the White House with decades of experience in Foreign Policy and a track record of advocating for international alliances and cooperation.As a global operation and with a global team transatlantic (and transglobal) cooperation with renewed engagement must be a positive thing.
BOOK OF THE WEEK  “Stillness Is the Key”It can be a crazy time of a year that has already had more than it’s fair share of crazy.As part of The Enterprisers Project “10 leadership books to strengthen your skills in 2020“, this book written by author Ryan Holiday shows you why slowing down is the secret weapon for those powering ahead.Described as, “At a time when all leaders feel the pressure to move faster, this book teaches readers how to slow down. Before heading into a new year, take a moment to reflect on the things that steal your happiness at work and, on the other side, what brings you meaning in your leadership role.”

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