Date: 28th September 2016
Black Friday is just around the corner
While most people have only just shaken the last grains of sand from their flip-flops and packed the kids back off to school, retailers are continuing to ramp up for one of the biggest shopping events of the year.
Ecommerce consultancy Salmon is predicting that shoppers will splash £5bn over the Black Friday cyber weekend from 24-28 November as part of a five-day pre-Christmas discounting bonanza. Shoppers spent around £1.1bn in a single day on Black Friday 2015 when for the first time online sales overtook their offline counterparts, with websites falling like ninepins as demand outstripped availability by a considerable margin.
There’s still time to make a difference
At SciVisum we know from experience how a web meltdown can not only hammer conversions during peak buying times but can also inflict long-term damage to brand reputation.
Ideally, online retailers will have been running load testing programmes for several months to make sure their site is ready for the fray but if you’ve left it a little late to run a comprehensive programme, what practical steps can you take to prepare for Black Friday?
Download SciVisum’s Black Friday final preparations checklist to help maximise your site’s performance
1. Squeeze in some last-minute load testing
Even if you haven’t had the time to prepare as thoroughly as you’d have liked, make sure you allow time to include a load test prior to code lockdown – about six weeks in advance of Black Friday – so you can fix any glitches without putting tech teams under unnecessary pressure.
Once you’ve locked in your special sections and deal codes, aim to load test key journeys two-to-four weeks ahead of peak demand to make sure all is running smoothly in a live environment.
2. Strip back functionality
Make things as simple as practically possible by stripping down your site to deliver only essential core functionality. Consider cutting the range of products on offer to deliver the best speed, stock control and experience at busy times.
In the same way, try to keep journey pages small by getting rid of anything (we’re looking at you, third-party components!) that adversely affects page load times.
3. Make sure mobile is up to scratch
With mobile accounting for more than half online sales – possibly more by the time this Black Friday hits – it’s more important than ever to ensure your site is fully optimised for mobile shoppers.
Your mobile customers are impatient and demand a smooth, fully functioning interface with speedy performance. They simply won’t wait for pages to load and are quick to switch if they encounter journey interruptions. So make sure you monitor journeys on iOS and Android browsers to avoid losing mobile business.
4. Plan for when things go wrong
Even the best laid plans can go awry. According to research by web traffic management expert Traffic Defender, 86% of consumers would rather queue online than have the website crash on them.
The research also revealed that nearly half of consumers have failed to complete a purchase due to a website crashing in a sale event, yet 47% would have been happy to wait more than three minutes had there been a queuing system like Queue-It in place. Food for thought.
What if you’re not planning any Black Friday offers?
Strange as it may seem, even if you’re not embracing Black Friday as part of your annual promotional activity, you’re likely to see a rise in web traffic regardless. That’s because shoppers assume everyone will have some special deals on offer and you may well get additional visitors as part of the Black Friday ebb and flow. Our advice? Don’t get caught out!
We’d love to show you how SciVisum can take the strain out of preparing for any peak demand period through a fully managed service that’s tailored for your operation, so do get in touch – or check out our performance monitoring and load testing services.
In the meantime, why not download our checklist to help you prepare for the Black Friday onslaught?
Learn more about best practise for the next year’s peak preparation read our Guide: Seven Steps to Black Friday Success.