13 Nov, 2017

Is Your Site Ready for Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual one day shopping event which sees retailers offering one-off heavily discounted goods to a bevy of frantic bargain hunters. Allegedly deriving from the colour of ink used to mark profits, Black Friday officially falls on November 24th this year, but predications are that retailers could start slashing prices as early as Wednesday or Thursday!
Black Friday is certainly not for the faint hearted. If you don’t like long lines, early mornings and masses of people, then heading to the shops on Black Friday probably isn’t the wisest of decisions. However, in today's e-commerce age, more and more people are braving the sales online instead.

That being said, many back end e-commerce systems are usually not prepared for such a spike in traffic leading to sites ultimately crashing, resulting in lost sales and frustrated customers just the same as if they headed in store. 

If you are an online retailer take a look at some of the ways you can make sure your site is ready for Black Friday:   

Preparation is Key

Some businesses prepare for months to ensure that their site does not buckle under the pressure. First off, take a look at your analytics from previous years and assess key statistics – how many visitors did you get? Where did most of the traffic come from? Where did most people exit the site? How long were they on for? This will give you a good idea of what you need to prepare for and identify key areas of improvement.

Capacity Testing

Capacity or load testing is a process of overloading your site to see how well it copes. Using data from your analytics you will be able to anticipate a number of hits per period of time and test how your site copes. Note the number of visitors it takes to slow the site down and the number at which the site goes down. With this information you will be able to create a solution to help manage the traffic so that it does not slow the site down or shut it down.

Queue System

In previous years many sites have opted to create a queue system to manage the number of users who could be on the site at one time. Queue –IT software is a great way to manage user end traffic. It will give users a time estimate for how long they will have to wait before being able to access the site. Last year Curry’s recorded wait times of up to an hour. Although some users will find the queue system irritating, it is a great way to ensure that the site does not fail completely.

24/7 Response Team

Agree operational roles in advance and have an emergency team at the ready in case of site failure. Make sure the team is prepped to deal with any obstacles and an influx of queries.

Load Balancing

Plagued websites can crash and even a few minutes could cost you valuable custom. One of the ways you can manage this traffic is through a load balancer. This is a process whereby multiple servers host the site to help manage the load across each server by distributing application traffic, and preventing any one server becoming overloaded. Large scale sites load balance across a multitude of servers and are effective in increasing the number of applications or users on the site at one time.

User Experience

Those who succeed this Black Friday will be those who can put customers at the heart of their online business. Take a good look at your payment processes and user journey and look at ways of improving the process to save time. For example, if your customers need to login before they can proceed to check out then try implementing a Guest Checkout in order to streamline the payment process. This will ultimately get people spending less time on the site.

Also, create separate pages to hold all of your sale items to ensure clear navigation. If users know where to find all the deals, they will hopefully spend less time browsing the site and proceed to checkout much quicker.

If you would like more information on preparing your site for Black Friday then give our team a call!