Black Friday is a HUGE day in e-commerce. In fact, many merchants can expect to see three times more traffic than usual. That’s a huge number! To ensure the best customer experience possible, retailers need to be ready to quickly expand their infrastructures to meet demand.
So, do you think your site is ready to take the hit?
Make Sure Your Server is Ready
It’s easy to underestimate the impact Black Friday can have on your server–but don’t make that rookie mistake. Huge traffic spikes can lead to poor site performance (or even a crash) –and errors should be expected.
That’s why it pays to prepare in advance. Here are a few ways to get ready:
- Make sure your website is scalable. With a flexible hosting plan, you can easily increase bandwidth, memory, and storage to prep for a spike in traffic. When the holidays are over, you can go back to normal.
- Update your hosting plan. Many businesses start out with a shared plan due to its affordability, but the downfall is that your site is not only affected by your own traffic, but the other sites on the server as well. Upgrading to VPS guarantees you a certain allocation of resources–no matter what everyone else is doing.
- Deliver cached data if possible. Cached data means reusing data that’s already been stored–so your system doesn’t use as much time or energy to load it.
Keep the User Experience Simple
It may go against everything you believe, but the holidays are NOT the time to pull out all the bells and whistles. Not when it comes to your website, anyway.
Keeping things simple helps reduce page load time by minimizing the data needed to display images and graphics. In addition, easier navigation and a basic display helps keep things easy for customers to find.
If you’ve ever gone Black Friday shopping, you know that it can be a stressful experience. The same is true, even if you’re shopping online. Most customers want to find the product they’re looking for quickly, get it in their cart, and get out. Don’t make them hunt around for your best deals.
Optimize Your Mobile Site
Mobile sales are important on any day, but especially on Black Friday. Last year, it is estimated that $2B in Black Friday sales were completed on mobile devices. This year, that number will only go higher.
Conduct Regular Testing
In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, conduct regular tests on your website to make sure it’s functioning properly. There are two ways you can do this:
- Load Testing: This is testing done to anticipate your server’s behavior during both normal and peak traffic. It can help reveal any problems before they occur and allow for time to fix them.
- User Testing: This is when you test your software in the “real world” under the expected conditions. In this instance, it would mean asking a group of users to rate their experience during the Black Friday rush. And while that information might not be helpful this holiday season, you can certainly make use of those lessons come next year.
Anticipate and prepare for spikes in traffic and the errors that might cause. By being proactive, you can help create a better shopping experience for your customers and ensure that things will run smoothly. While you can’t account for every glitch, advanced prep will certainly help cut down on the number of fires you have to put out.