Our apologies for mentioning the C-word in October, but Christmas is now on the radar. And this year online retailers are set to be busier than ever, as consumers start to prepare for the festive season in a world where popping to the shops might not be an option. There’s a worry that online shopping delivery times could be longer than usual and for some people, high street shopping just presents too high a risk at the moment. Add to that the last minute local lockdowns, tightening of restrictions and the grumbling threat of a second national lockdown, and the chances are that e-commerce retailers are going to start to see spikes in web traffic, right about now.
We’ve talked before about the importance of getting e-commerce websites ready for Black Friday, and 2020 is likely to see one of the biggest Black Fridays to date. However, as shoppers start to prepare earlier this year, it's important that online retailers are ready for the rush - now - as well as pre-empting a potential Black Friday pandemonium.
If your site experiences outages, slow loading times and more critically, issues at the point of payment, your visitors are not going to convert into sales. In fact, even a delay of 3 seconds could cause users to bounce to a competitors site, so if you want to harness the traffic increase and turn Christmas shoppers into Christmas customers, your website needs to be ready.
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. Keep in mind that this year, traffic is likely to be higher, and arrive earlier than usual. 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. Reduce 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. 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, there are examples of big brands getting this wrong. Downtime costs money, and those losses are amplified as online shopping gains traction in the run up to Christmas. Plan for resilience now, and you’ll reap the rewards.
If you want to talk to an expert about how you can ensure you e-commerce website is ready for Christmas, get in touch with our hosting team here, or call 0161 498 1200.