We’re sorry to have to reference the c-word, but Christmas is on the horizon, which means that Black Friday is even closer.
Just two months away, Friday 29th November marks this year’s Black Friday - a day which originated in the USA and is seen as the first official Christmas shopping day. It’s followed closely by Cyber Monday on 2nd December and consumers expect bargains, with many brands offering huge pre-Christmas discounts and special offers to kickstart the festive shopping period.
As an E-Commerce business, this can be a great time to boost sales. That’s assuming your website is up to the challenge. According to PwC, more than 70% of Black Friday sales are completed online, and transactions in November and December increase by up to 80% compared with all other months of the year. So planning, preparing and ensuring your E-Commerce business is ready for the traffic peaks well in advance, is essential. Fail to plan, and the increased traffic will likely result in overloaded servers, slow-loading, unresponsive pages and website downtime.
So what can you do to make sure your website is ready for the stampede?
Study and scale
Use historic web traffic data and sales figures from previous years to estimate the amount of traffic likely to hit your website. Data used intelligently will allow you to make solid estimates of the capacity you’re going to need, and scale your servers accordingly.
Speed it up
According to Google, more than 50% of mobile customers will abandon a site if they have to wait 3 seconds for it to load. Minimise the number of HTTP requests your site receives by reducing image sizes and deleting unnecessary pages and plug ins.
Test your limits
Regular performance and capacity testing should be an essential part of your website maintenance, and becomes even more important when traffic peaks are anticipated around the festive period. Consider investing in staging servers to build your test environment, and push your site to its limits to see what it can handle at maximum load capacity.
Caching will save relevant data so that it doesn’t need to be reloaded every time a visitor re-hits your site. This reduces processing time, encourages quicker sales and will make more room on your site for new visitors (and new sales!).
Help from hosting
If you’re not sure how your hosting plan works, talk to your hosting provider and ascertain exactly how much flexibility you have. Most cloud hosting plans are easily scalable, but your provider should be able to adapt your hosting package if necessary.
Every year, brands from the big to the small get it wrong on Black Friday, and while traffic peaks are notoriously difficult to predict and plan for, if you get it right you will reap the rewards.