The Ultimate eCommerce Black Friday Checklist
Black Friday Week has become such an important trading period for online retailers that it influences their profit margins for the year and their wider commercial success.
For many companies in cosmetics, health and beauty, style and fashion it would be a nightmare if their website were to crash during a key trading period such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. High sales projections would not be met and customers would leave unsatisfied – perhaps never to return.
eCommerce businesses looking to protect their reputation and make as many sales as possible from increased web traffic on Black Friday will surely be in preparation.
To help equip your business for Black Friday Week we have created a checklist of what to do in advance and on the day. Plus, we are running a free webinar on Tuesday, 31 October and Thursday 2 November called How to Maximise Online Revenue on Black Friday 2017.
Black Friday 2017 Checklist
- Establish who is in charge
Do you know who is responsible for the performance of your eCommerce platform? Ensure you have established who oversees website performance on Black Friday to avoid being called into a crisis meeting in your war room.
It could be any number of employees working in positions such as eCommerce Platform Manager, eCommerce Director, IT Director, IT Security, Front-End Developer, eCommerce Developer, Head of IT, CTO, Marketing Director or Marketing Manager. With such a wide range of positions that could be held accountable, it is important to assign ownership.
Once ownership of website performance on Black Friday is established you should create an emergency contacts list. Comprised of people within the business, or in a third party, who can be called upon in the event of a disaster. This could include technical IT staff, a PR team and digital traffic management experts.
- Fix a budget
In order to guarantee website uptime and speedy responses for your customers on the busiest day of the year requires a budget you should determine a budget.
Figuring out what a website performance budget over a key trading period can be done by looking at the opportunity cost of not setting out a budget to guarantee performance.
What would this mean to your business? The average cost for a single second of website slowdown would cost the average UK retailer £8,891 per hour. Worse still, just ten minutes of website downtime would cost £7,432 on average.
- Predict traffic volume
The more accurately you can measure the level of expected web traffic the easier it will be to scale your infrastructure appropriately to match.
It can be hard to determine what you should expect in the way of web traffic on Black Friday, but you can start by observing your baseline traffic level, spikes over the last year (including Black Friday 2016 and Cyber Monday) and trends in your industry.
As well as trying to predict the volume of visitors to your site you should examine where they are likely to come from, the areas of your site they want to visit and what requests they are likely to make.
- Determine infrastructure capacity
Knowledge of how much traffic your website can cope with is valuable to prevent it from happening.
You can find out the capacity of your platform through load testing. You might be able to get your IT team to carry out these tests or choose to employ an external analyst team to complete performance tests on your website.
Load testing should reveal the signs that your website will exhibit if it is struggling with visitor numbers, which will be useful on the day. Also, if you know what areas of your site users will wish to access, you can determine how much traffic specific areas can take and adjust pool sizes accordingly.
- Optimise eCommerce platform performance
Push to achieve as much as you can from your existing infrastructure. Optimise performance in quick development sprints and make sure to test regularly. Try to focus your effort on areas of software development where you can generate quick wins.
- Move hits away from the domain
Speed up the response time of your website to increase the number of transactions you can complete on Black Friday 2017.
Use a content delivery network (CDN) to redirect requests from your website’s server to one which is geographically closest to users who have requested cached content. This can help speed up site load times, reduce bandwidth consumption and reduce latency.
- Scale up website capacity
Consider available means of scaling up your website’s capacity.
This could include cloud hosting, failover capacity and disaster recovery.
- Be reactive
If changes need to be made to improve your customers’ online experience then you should have the ability to make them.
Empower your staff to make changes to site functionality on Black Friday if a problem calls for it. Being able to respond quickly, without having to wade through red tape, could save your business thousands of pounds in sales.
If one part of a website is busier than another, you could alter the pool sizes or initiate a queue for the over-subscribed pages before the whole website crashes.
- Switch off non-essentials
Make a list of non-essential functionality that could be turned off on Black Friday if your website is struggling.
For example, predictive site search and live chat could be disabled to boost performance.
The value of human traffic is greater than scraper bots, price aggregators and re-sellers when they want to take advantage of your sales offers and spend money. Consider using specific rules during peak trading times, such as Black Friday Week, for blocking non-essential bot traffic.
- Monitor on the day
When combined with TrafficDefender different forms of monitoring help you to optimise performance, customer satisfaction and maximise Black Friday sales.
Use business metrics such as conversion rates, average basket value, sales volume and total sales value.
Monitor real users to see discover the customer journey.
Use social media metrics to help boost sales up to the point where your website approaches capacity – which you can monitor with TrafficDefender Queue Management.
Use TrafficDefender to monitor your website over peak traffic events such as Black Friday Week. It guarantees your business 100% website uptime and can be used in tandem with social media to maximise the ROI on your marketing campaigns.