Going for Gold: Are You Prepared for the Olympic Disruption?

It’s not only the 15,000 athletes who will be working hard this summer during the Olympic Games. Businesses up and down the country will face a series of hurdles high enough to have even Dai Greene quaking in his boots! With less than a month to go until the opening ceremony, it’s critical that businesses prepare now or miss out on the economic benefits.

Over the jubilee weekend, ecommerce service provider, Venda saw a 38% increase in online transactions. So can we expect the same success in the run up to the Olympics? And more importantly are you prepared for it?

Plan your deliveries

Around 10 million tickets have been sold for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with as many as three million extra journeys expected on the busiest days. Undoubtedly this will lead to some transport issues in and around the capital that will affect businesses and etailers. London deliveries represent almost a fifth of all deliveries in the UK, meaning that even if you’re not based in London, it’s highly likely that a significant number of your customers will be. For this reason it is vital that you adequately plan for deliveries and collections during the Games.

To keep your business running at Usain-Bolt-speed, you should aim to reduce the need to travel, and make essential journeys at less busy times, or by using different modes or routes. There are route-optimising tools available that can re-order delivery points for you helping to reduce your mileage and avoid the congestion. It cuts down on the time it takes to manually plan deliveries and the fuel cost of making them. More importantly it can schedule delivery windows so you can let your customers know when they can expect their delivery. The website www.getaheadofthegames.com provides further details of travel hotspots and useful advice to help you with your journey.

Whatever you decide to do its imperative that you manage your buyer’s expectations by editing your site to include a statement warning that there could be delivery delays.

Scale back internet usage

And it’s not just congestion on the roads that firms are worried about: London’s wired and wireless communications infrastructure will also be under serious strain. The Cabinet Office and the London Games organising committee is advising businesses that “due to an increased number of people accessing the internet” during this summer’s Games that “internet services may be slower” or “in very severe cases there may be drop outs”.

With the prospect of an overloaded internet falling over this summer the government encourages business to scale back their internet usage to help reduce the burden on the nation’s telecoms infrastructure. You should also consider network upgrades in order to increase bandwidth in certain locations in preparation for the Games. You need to be doing all you can to ensure that your site is accessible at all times in this busy period.

Invest in fraud protection

You should also be prepared for the rise in the number of attempted fraudulent transactions expected to occur around the Olympics.  Ensure you have all the fraud protection tools in place now and apply extra vigilance to all transactions taking place over the next few weeks. Use SSL certificates and speak to your website host about what they are doing to keep your website secure. If you use your own server, you must ensure that you have systems and plans in place to help you cope in case of any potential attacks.

Capitalise on traffic

With potential road closures impacting on footfall, it will be vital that your ecommerce website is working effectively to capture any sales or enquiries from customers who wish to avoid coming into store. Scott Storey, managing director of CTS Retail, believes the Olympics present many retailers with the opportunity to target a bigger customer base than ever before. Don’t miss out on a single opportunity by making sure all your contact details are accurate at the point of entry. Remember any changes you make to your back-end systems now, will continue to pay dividends long after the Olympics has finished.

Finally, embrace the Olympics, after all it does only happen every four years, so enjoy it. This year’s games could be a great opportunity for any online business in the UK. Prepare well and reap the benefits.