For technologists working in the retail industry, the November sales season is the key time of year when they can expect their systems to be pushed to the limit. From Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) to Click Frenzy, and beyond, the technology and backend underpinning any online storefront must be foolproof before the inevitable influx of traffic.
In 2020, data from Commonwealth Bank showed online spending on clothing and electronics soared by more than 100% over the four day BCFM period, compared to the average amount spent in the three weeks prior.
And this year, with Shopify’s Australian consumer buyer survey predicting that 90% of BFCM shoppers plan to shop online, we’re sure to witness an absolute flurry of activity in peak spikes throughout November.
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A massive traffic surge, or rush of transactions can massively influence an e-commerce site’s performance and page speed. This isn’t just a problem at the moment regarding site or cart abandonment, but in the long term, it can also irreparably damage a brand’s image and the possibility of capturing returning customers.
Without a robust plan for reinforcing the back end, all of the product, sales, and marketing efforts in the lead up to BFCM risk going to waste entirely. The longer you put off optimising your website for speed, the more customers will flock to a competitor that services them faster, or a website that doesn’t cave under pressure.
The need for speed
Track everything and optimise for speed, in whatever way you’re able to. Evaluate what is essential, especially on the pages that are usually visited the most, and eliminate or compress anything excessive. Make sure all images are optimised through lazy loading, so they only load when a user sees them — this will improve the initial page load speed.
But why this need for speed? Our recent survey revealed that saving time is among the top three main reasons Australian consumers will be shopping online during BFCM. Customers are now quite accustomed to online shopping, especially thanks to the necessity of lockdowns — this means they know what they want, and know how to go to an alternative if their experience is not up to scratch.
The mobile speed has to be just as robust. For three years running, Shopify stores saw more mobile purchases than desktop purchases across the whole BFCM period. In 2021 particularly, for younger and middle-aged consumers, the dominant hardware for making online purchases is a mobile phone (67% and 63% respectively) and for older consumers it’s a desktop (69%).
People are notoriously impatient when it comes to slow mobile loading speeds, and will click away to a competitor’s site if they have to wait. A website has to be entirely mobile responsive and extremely speedy, even in peak moments, such as immediately after the airing of a television advertisement, or in the final moments before a sale officially ends.
Testing add-ons in advance
Synced inventory, personalised product discoverability, and live chatbots, and other add-ons should all be considered and tested well in advance so the system is fully prepared to handle increased customer numbers and product refreshes. Rather than considering these as nice-to-haves tacked on at the last moment, consider integrating them into the website as soon as possible, to get customers attuned to their presence and test their capabilities prior to the big rush of BFCM.
Successfully testing and retesting the technology is the only way to ensure comprehensive uptime and limit lag times, both of which will do wonders for keeping customers shopping on your site.