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Big ‘code freeze’ hits retailers as Black Friday arrives

As winter approaches, we’re expecting plenty of (or at least some) freezing weather, but as far as retailers are concerned, a “code freeze” is also on the cards.

As Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season come around, what happens is that retailers lock down their IT systems and keep them just as they are.

They don’t want to make any changes to core applications or code, just in case that work happens to go awry, and bring the system down – as obviously any downtime in this period of major spending can be particularly costly.

Hence the “code freeze”, a policy of safety first when it comes to ecommerce stores, websites and so forth.

Original Software has recently conducted some research encompassing 48 senior IT execs from top UK retailers, and found that 69 per cent said they suffer from bugs – with ecommerce systems going wrong being the primary culprit here. So it isn’t surprising that it’s caution first at Christmas.

71 per cent of those surveyed did say they were making “significant application investments” over the next year, so hopefully the amount of bugs hitting retail systems will be reduced as a result.

George Wilson, Head of Operations at Original Software, commented: “Retailers face challenging times as they attempt to knit together core applications – store systems, logistics, e-commerce etc. The run-up to the code freeze is a demanding time as they need to complete all essential maintenance or upgrades and confirm systems are up to the Christmas peak season. Thorough testing of applications is key to ensuring systems don’t fall over at retailers’ busiest time.”

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.