Don't let your Black Friday be your Blackout Friday
Black Friday. The infamous day of the year when businesses across the country move from being in the red, to the black. In recent years this day has moved from being a single 24 hour madhouse to a full on weekend sales extravaganza. It even has its own spinoff, the increasingly popular day, cyber Monday where e-commerce takes the spotlight.
Last year, Black Friday raked in over 1.5 billion in sales according to Comscore, a leading internet analytics company. Comscore also reported that e-commerce sales on Thanksgiving day alone rose 26% from 2013 to over 1 billion.
With this year’s Black Friday expected to continue to push the bar upward in sales, companies have started preparation months in advance, with increased seasonal staffing, shipping infrastructure and the ever important, mental exercises. While companies have their focus on preparing for their in store sales and the insane traffic increase over Black Friday weekend, often what is forgotten is the newer, just as important and robust uptick in e-commerce traffic.
So how should companies prepare for this virtual rush of customers scrambling to get their hands on their favorite winter booties at Black Friday steal prices? We have put together a couple of last minute tips on how to handle the online surge in online customers.
Direct the Traffic:
The fight is real when you are in stores. Riot fences are put up, cops are positioned at every door and throughout the stores. Temporary employees are hired to help “pick up the pieces” after boxes are torn through and to help check the crazy’s out at the register. The same concept should be applied to your website. Your website is going to have to add additional servers, additional security, and optimize/direct traffic. Here are three things to ensure your website is ready for the influx in online shoppers.
Increase your servers:
The scariest thing for an IT team is a sudden spike in traffic that is unexpected if your hosting servers for your website are not auto scaling. Luckily, you know there is a 99% chance that Black Friday weekend your website is going to see a yearly high in customer traffic, so you can plan ahead.
Contact your hosting provider, and ensure that you are using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and if you are not using a scalable server architecture, inquire about switching. As traffic increases on your website, your hosting infrastructure will need to add additional servers to be able to handle the increase in users. If you don’t add a server, the result is a blackout of your website on Black Friday and a catastrophic loss in sales. Make sure your hosting provider ensures they will be able to scale your website to avoid service interruption.
Core dna Customers: Because of our Enterprise infrastructure, your website is already on a scalable solution with managed DevOPs, able to scale up and down to handle increased traffic over time seamlessly.
Page Load Times:
Instores, the lines outside just to get in and take advantage of those once a year deals can be around the block. People wait in line for hours, sometimes days just to get in. This does not fly online. According to byreputation.com the average median page load time for an e-commerce store is 3.1 seconds. If your customers are waiting longer, odds are, they are on to the next e-commerce store, especially on mobile. No one likes the spinning wheel of death. So how do we increase those page load times, and regain those lost milliseconds?
One way is to compress and reduce image sizes. Make sure that if you have images on your website, they are sized appropriately. For example, if a product has an image that is 500px by 500px, but you have uploaded a high resolution image, the whole high resolution image still has to load. If you have hundreds of products/images or more on your site, we know it’s going to be impossible to compress and resize all of them before the masses hit. Just target your most popular pages and products.
Core dna Customer's: Contact your integration partner to inquire about making these changes to your site.
Increasing police at the front door, and in stores helps keep the crowds calm and orderly, while greatly mitigating risk of theft for the stores. The same concept applies for your website. Beefing up security, and visible security to gain trust is important to help ensure conversion rates are as high as possible.
Call your hosting provider and inquire with them about what your security is like on your site. Ask the questions, do I have a actual security plan? What’s my disaster recovery plan? Has an independent party reviewed my website security lately? Furthermore, have your security provider perform a penetration pin test on your site to make sure there are no holes in your security.
Core dna Customers: Penetration pin testing is performed regularly on your website as part of your Core dna hosting and subscription agreement.
A visible, and necessary layer of security is to have Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) on your site. This is a layer of security that encrypts connection between your visitors browser and your website. When an SSL is present, it is visible to the visitor as HTTPS instead of HTTP in your website URL. At a minimum, SSL should be on your checkout process, but the trend is moving toward having a sitewide SSL in place. Contact your DNS or Hosting provider to obtain an SSL for your site.
Core dna Customers: All Core dna shopping carts have SSL applied. To obtain a site wide SSL for your site, contact either your integration partner or your Core dna account manager.