The holiday rush is nearly upon us. Have you ensured that your site is up-to-speed and ready to face the biggest shopping season of the year? Speed and reliability are essential parts of a successful eCommerce site. As more and more people shop online, and do so from mobile devices all over the world, it’s imperative that you make your site as efficient as possible.
Site speed played a huge role in online purchases made last year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales alone are proof of the power of eCommerce. When you see growth of 24.8% in eCommerce sales per year, you know you’ve got something impressive. For holiday shopping, that’s no small number. Your business needs to be able to capitalize on that as well.
eCommerce sales are expected to reach $124 billion this year, up from $106.14 billion in 2017. In the hustle and bustle of holiday season, just a delay in two seconds for loading speed can make your potential customers click away to another website that’s better prepared to take orders.
Did you know that site speed also helps determine your site ranking for search results? Google announced this year that mobile page speed will be a factor in their search ranking and algorithm. That’s a huge incentive to get your website in great shape.
So, how do you prepare for the holiday season’s mad rush? Preparation and the right support.
You need to focus on site speed before the holiday rush. Set up a sandbox site where you test pages under intense load. Streamline your add-ons. Do you need all of your add-ons or plugins? If not, consider getting rid of any unnecessary ones or closing them down temporarily in preparation for the holiday launch.
Optimize your site based on traffic patterns. Which pages (or products) get the most attention? What promotions will you be featuring? Create the sales pages, images, bonuses, and other bells or whistles early enough that you’ll have time to test (and re-test) for efficiency. You want the site launch for the holidays to be successful, and that means testing everything for speed and usability. Once the holiday season begins for your site, your audience should experience limited, if any, interruption or slowdown.
Prepare your email and social media campaigns to align with your sales pages. Scale your image sizes appropriately. Your template should compress your images based on device usage so that your potential customer faces no problems with load times.
Your pages must be mobile responsive. Over 70% of sales last year were conducted using a mobile device. More people have smartphones than computers in the US. If your site isn’t mobile friendly prior to the holiday rush, you’ll miss out on possible sales.
Sites that aren’t mobile friendly will receive search penalties with Google. Test your content in mobile. Remember that media heavy content won’t be as effective. Videos that auto-run and sound that auto plays on mobile devices are battery draining and frustrating to the consumer. Don’t rely on images over text to convey your most important messages. If there is a delay in service (or they’re using local Wi-Fi with a poor signal), the image you spent all of your efforts on, may not show up. Also, an image is harder to enlarge and see clearly on smartphone screens. If you use images, make sure they are clear and bold. Text can be enlarged at will to read, making a more joyful experience for the mobile user.
The other big impact piece for seasonal preparations is your hosting service. Your hosting service needs to be reliable and offer scalability options. Confirm with your host that they are able to handle a heavy load especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Prepare ahead of time by looking at previous experience. How many customers did you see last year? How much site usage and what did your sales look like? Take those numbers and increase them by 25% just to be on the safe side. The nice thing about scalability in your hosting solutions can increase your resources in an instant, and sometimes even over the phone by having a quick chat with technical support. Give yourself room to grow and you and your customers won’t be disappointed.