6 Tips to Prepare Your E-Commerce Site for the Biggest Holiday Traffic Surge Ever
So it begins.
No, we are not talking about the school year, the football season, or a dizzying array of television shows about zombies, detectives, and of course: zombie detectives (seriously, it’s a thing).
Rather, we are talking about the beginning of what for most ecommerce businesses is the make-or-break race to the end of the year called “gift buying season.” Except this year, things are going to be different.
To understand why, let’s zoom in on what, for most ecommerce businesses, is the most critical period of the gift buying season — Cyber Week — which starts on Thanksgiving, and runs through to Cyber Monday. According to research by BigCommerce.com, during Cyber Week 2019 same-store sales across all verticals increased by a whopping 21% compared to Cyber Week 2018, and the average order value jumped by 10%.
And now, we come to 2020, a year in which billions of people are either obligated or advised to stay at home. These folks aren’t going to even consider hopping into their car to navigate the mall jungle. Instead, they’re going to pause Fortnite, minimize Reddit, crack their knuckles, replace the battery in their mouse, and BUY all kinds of stuff online: from toaster ovens to 60” 4K TVs to luxury sneakers to mounted singing bass fish (remember those?).
Simply put: 2020 is not just going to break e-commerce sales records, but it is going to obliterate them. In fact, in terms of how many people buy stuff online and how much they buy, there may never be another year quite like it in terms of year-over-year surges in volume and value.
For e-commerce businesses, this makes the 2020 gift buying season absolutely critical — which in turn means that crashed or slow websites are NOT OK. In fact, the mere idea of their possible existence is horrifying and just plain unacceptable, like a floating island of fire ants (which, unfortunately, is also a thing).
To prevent a catastrophe worse than anything the Griswold Family might experience, here are six essential things do to:
- Anticipate how much traffic is likely to arrive — keeping in mind that it’s probably going to be much higher than in past years during Cyber Week and throughout the remainder of 2020 — and proactively ensure that the host can handle the load. For more insight and advice, read our article on how to prevent traffic spikes from crashing your website.
- Assess site speed, and if necessary dial up the velocity (and then dial it up some more). If you have any doubts about this, read our article on the 3 reasons why website speed is more important than ever.
- Eliminate the 4 common causes of cart abandonment: unexpected costs, forcing customers to create an account, a long and winding checkout process, and bugs.
- Optimize the mobile shopping and purchasing experience. During Cyber Week in 2019, mobile orders were responsible for 49% of all online sales.
- Analyze and address security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, shoppers aren’t the only people who love e-commerce sites — hackers do too, and they demonstrate their affection by deploying malware and launching DDoS attacks.
- Use a reputable and proven site uptime and availability monitoring solution like AlertBot, which will instantly notify authorized individuals (e.g. webmasters, sysadmins, etc.) if something goes wrong.
The Bottom Line
There aren’t many things that can be said with certainty about 2020. However, two things make the list: we will hear the phrase “new normal” at least a thousand more times before the year is up, and the gift buying season for e-commerce businesses is going to be colossal.
Whether that is colossal good (think Avengers) or colossal bad (think the Death Star) will largely be determined by the six essential factors described above. Which epic story do you want your e-commerce business to tell in the months ahead?
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