Over the last five years, the November-December holiday shopping season has accounted for an average of 19 percent of annual retail sales, driven in large part by the surge in shopping over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In 2021, nearly 180 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, generating online sales of $8.9B on Black Friday and $10.7B on Cyber Monday. While the 2021 holiday shopping season started earlier than in previous years, Cyber Monday remained the biggest online shopping day of the year: in the peak hour (11pm-12am ET/8pm-9pm PT), consumers spent $12M every minute.

At Google Cloud, we’re committed to helping all our partners, from retailers and financial services firms to shippers and grocers, unwrap a successful holiday shopping season with our Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) program. Launched in 2016 as part of our Event Management Service, this program served more than 100 unique customers in 2021. Our Event Management Service includes activities such as early resource planning, architectural reviews and disaster recovery exercises, and additional expert support to help Premium customers handle Peak Events—not only BFCM, but the Super Bowl, Tax Season, and other occasions where support is critical.

‘Tis the season to make a list—and check it twice

Just like any good proactive holiday shopper, we started planning early for additional needs—outside typical workloads—for the upcoming holiday season across 90+ zones. We then validated those projections with our customers, giving them the opportunity to make changes based on their business needs. In 2021, those projections were spot on, with only one retailer requiring additional resources during the peak events.

In response to customer requests, we also launched a new capacity reservation option in 2021 that allowed customers to signal and secure capacity assurance for their peak shopping times.

The bow on top: service freezes and specialized support teams

To further ensure a successful holiday season, Google Cloud mirrors many retailers by initiating code freezes for key Google Cloud services during the two-week period around BFCM. As consumer online and in-store shopping patterns evolve, we will continue to adjust the change freeze timing as our retail partners require.

If you’ve ever worked retail during the holiday shopping season, you know it’s all hands on deck and long work days and nights. Google Cloud is right there with our retail partners, staffing additional BFCM support across the globe to watch for, and ensure speedy resolution of, any issues that arise. Knowing the importance of this time period, we also provide regular status updates to key leadership.

Celebrating the joy of the season

Carrefour Retail Brazil, one of Brazil’s leading ecommerce retailers, is one of the dozens of Google Cloud customers that have been able to enjoy the season with the help of our BFCM program. “I appreciate Google Cloud’s support related to Black Friday,” said Paulo Farroco, Chief Information Officer. “I believe that the Black Friday period has been completely stable.”

Etsy, a global marketplace for unique and creative goods serving more than 5.2 million sellers and offering nearly 100 million items, has a mission to “keep commerce human.” This is more important than ever during peak seasons. The Etsy engineering team reflected on the 2021 holiday season on @codeascraft: “We are proud to support Etsy’s sellers and buyers during the 2021 Cyber 5. Thanks to our teams of engineers and our partners at Google Cloud, we saw no incidents or degradation of service during this massive scale event.”

Looking forward to 2022

With the holiday shopping season trending to span weeks instead of days, we’ve already begun planning for 2022. We’ll watch shopping patterns as they evolve and adjust our timelines to better meet our partners’ needs, including extended freeze timing. We’re also encouraging customers to build on what they learned throughout the 2021 BFCM period to support other peak traffic events leading up to BFCM 2022. We’ve discovered that customers who participate year after year move along the “operational maturity” scale so that BFCM becomes easier over time, despite increases in traffic.

Ready to ring in a successful 2022 shopping season? There’s no time like the present to partner with internal and external teams to discuss key lessons learned in 2021 and what will make 2022 even better. Contact your Google Cloud representative to make a fa-la-la-lasting impact on your upcoming holiday sales.

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