Stop a Site Crash on Black Friday

September 29, 2022
Written by Ampry

Holidays get massive online traffic, which is an ultimate test for ecommerce websites. Websites that aren’t well-prepared pay the price. Infrastructure that can’t support high online traffic causes website crashes. For example, if you don’t test your ecommerce test at least five times under normal traffic volumes, it may crash under peak traffic volumes. Crashes mean lost customers, downtime, and revenue. Depending on how long a website is down, it can cost ecommerce retailers a lot of money, damaging the brand as consumers take to social media to share their frustrations. That isn’t good for any business. However, how much is too much web traffic, and how can ecommerce retailers avoid website crashes?Schedule a customized strategy call today with our skilled conversion experts to learn how you can generate more sales this Black Friday!

Effects of Black Friday Site Crashes on Revenue

A broken site on one of the busiest shopping days is a retailer’s worst nightmare, and unfortunately, in 2018, that came true for J. Crew, Walmart, and Lowe’s. These companies lost millions of dollars because of a lack of technical preparation.

These site crashes happen because of high volume and early starts. In the United States, Black Friday online sales have increased from $1.93 billion in 2013 to $8.9 billion in 2021 and show no signs of slowing down.While consumers spending more is a boon for ecommerce retailers, an inability to handle increased traffic can turn a Black Friday shopping dream into a nightmare.

Why Website and Mobile Performance Are Important for Ecommerce Businesses

When it comes to ecommerce site speed, time is money. Slow sites lose customers to fast websites. Poor website performance reflects poorly on your brand. Unhappy shoppers start searching for the same services or products elsewhere. And they end up shopping with your competitors in the future.You spend tons of dollars and more effort to gain new customers. If your website takes too long or doesn’t load, you’ll alienate new customers when they click through your online store. Not only has your ecommerce store lost a sale, but you’ve also wasted your marketing budget.Further, with Google saying that website speed is a crucial ranking factor for mobile and desktop sites, a slow site can lower your search ranking, causing you to lose prospective customers and sales on a big day like Black Friday. That’s because 57% of web visitors will abandon a site that takes over three seconds to load, and 80% of those potential customers will never return. Your site speed also affects the user experience, which can positively or negatively affect your bottom line. For instance, reducing load speed from 10 to three seconds increases brand advocacy by 26%.

How to Avoid Site Crashes This Black Friday

1. Optimize Your Ecommerce Site to Handle Heavy Traffic

Optimizing your site’s performance for high traffic is possible by directing more power into crucial tasks on your servers. This will increase your site’s capacity and help you deliver better customer experiences. For instance, you can streamline your site’s performance by limiting product ranges, reducing the number of images you use to facilitate each sale, and cutting down tutorials and video reviews that use a lot of processing power. However, you may ask, “Why should I reduce these things? Isn’t this what my customers want to see? Also, aren’t these the best players to help me achieve the ROI I want?”There are other better ways to optimize website performance. For example, content delivery networks often respond to less critical web pages on your website, leaving your server to do the most demanding tasks needed by the dynamic content because of the heavy traffic that brings you more sales. You can also leverage a content delivery network to serve capacity-intensive assets, such as JavaScript files, images, or CSS files used by dynamic web pages, helping during peak times when a browser loads pictures. Further, using a cached version of a browser script to deliver some or all your content may mean your server won’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Compression filters can also help you speed up your site’s loading time or distribute dynamic content over several view states, reducing the chances of online traffic surges crashing your site or app during peak shopping times like Black Friday. Improving your site infrastructure by using an additional host server or one server for your website’s database can also help you speed up your website performance. Finally, compressing images reduces your site’s loading time, improving your search ranking and delivering better customer experiences. This can ultimately result in improved conversion rates and more sales.

2. Run Performance Tests Before Your Black Friday Campaign

Performance tests can help determine whether your website and its infrastructure can handle high traffic volumes in a given time. They aim to optimize the back end of your site. Even though you’re unsure of how many web visitors to expect, running performance tests with an incremental approach can help you determine how many visitors your website can handle without experiencing technical issues or at least how your system will behave as traffic increases in terms of resource consumption and response times. You can run the following performance tests on your ecommerce site:

  • Stress test: This test can help you determine the number of concurrent web visitors your system can support with a satisfactory customer experience. It can also help you determine the breaking point.
  • Load test: This test can help you determine how your site will behave at a given traffic volume. It can also help you identify opportunities for improvement in any expected scenario.
  • Endurance test: This entails testing your website with significant web traffic extended over a considerable timeframe to establish how it will behave after sustained use.
  • Peak test: This involves determining whether a site works appropriately under a normal amount of web traffic, if there’s a sudden increase in traffic, if it'll recover, and how fast.

To be prepared for Black Friday's high web traffic, you must run realistic performance tests. Test traffic loads that realistically represent the traffic you expect to experience during your Black Friday sale. That’s because testing a small traffic load will leave you unprepared for the actual Black Friday traffic, but testing an overly ambitious load will leave you needlessly worried about your site.

3. Leverage Predictive Search to Deliver Better Browsing Experiences

One thing to know about Black Friday and other lucrative holiday shopping days is that consumers get frustrated when they get no response from the store they want to buy from. Even a minute delay can cause shoppers to head to another ecommerce store because they know they’ll get the exact item for the same or lesser price. So, your ecommerce site must have everything that’ll engage your web visitors and encourage them to complete a purchase. That involves leveraging predictive search.The most common way to leverage predictive search is through auto-complete. You can leverage this valuable engagement tool to help your ecommerce store visitors complete their search queries. Auto-complete presents them with different search suggestions, even before they finish typing all the words in the search box. In addition, an upgraded version corrects and comes up with search results even when a potential buyer types in the wrong spelling.Leveraging this engagement tool in your online store will encourage web visitors to shop from you. Because it helps them find the products they’re looking for and complete their purchases quickly, ultimately preventing site crowding while ensuring your site doesn’t crash during peak times.

Final Thoughts

Eighty-eight million Americans shopped online on Black Friday in 2021. This year’s Black Friday is expected to be an even more lucrative shopping event than last year, with more consumers shopping online and more of those customers visiting your online store through mobile devices. So, to avoid site crashes during the holiday season and maximize your sales, you need to optimize your website to handle increased web traffic. Also, you must start running performance tests before it’s too late. Schedule a personalized strategy call with Ampry today to learn how our reputable conversion experts can help you convert more web visitors into leads and generate more sales by offering customized on-site experiences.

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