Black Friday has become an increasingly important date on the retail calendar in recent years, and Black Friday 2017 promises to be the same.
In this article, we will be exploring Black Friday ecommerce tips to help you maximise your profits. In particular, we will be looking at things you can do within our area of expertise of digital infrastructure and hosting to ensure that your customers make the purchases they (and you) want on Black Friday 2017.
When is Black Friday 2017?
First things first: let’s look at the timeframe we are working to. Black Friday is Friday, 24 November, 2017. At the time of writing, that gives you just over six weeks to implement the Black Friday tips and get the rest of your plans in place.
Tibus’ Black Friday Tips
Talk to your web host or IT team
The first step is to hold discussions with your web hosting company or your IT team to discuss what you are planning for Black Friday 2017. Your Black Friday ecommerce plans stand the best chance of success if your tech team is preparing for it in advance rather than reacting to it as it happens.
Loop them into your sales and marketing plan, including which items will be in the sale and any promotional activities on social media, pay-per-click, email, the website, TV or radio. This will give them opportunities to put in place the right infrastructure for the task at hand.
They will be able to plan for spikes at peak times and particular pages that might be susceptible to becoming unavailable if there is a surge of traffic. Let’s take a look at what some of that infrastructure and planning might entail…
Plan a multi-server environment
Black Friday ecommerce is all about attracting more people to your website that would usually visit in on a regular day. As such, you need to have a hosting infrastructure in place that can cope with more traffic than an average day.
A cost-effective way of achieving that is a flexible hosting infrastructure that grows (and then shrinks) according to your demands. A multi-server environment, in which traffic and load is spread across more than one server, will significantly increase your website’s capacity, and allow for more servers to be added if needed.
Multi-server hosting also has the advantage of guarding against hardware failure or another problem that impacts any single server within the infrastructure.
Increase your database server capacity
Ecommerce websites are heavy in their use of database resources. Shoppers will click into various items, open and quickly click through a host of photographs, and start selecting product options (such as sizes and colours). Each of these actions is a database query, so it is fair to surmise that your Black Friday ecommerce activity will put your database server under more strain than usual.
Again, talk to your web hosting company or IT team about widening this common ecommerce bottleneck by increasing server capacity.
Cache your content
If Black Friday 2017 is going to plan, your website and server will be under more strain than usual. There is no need to make them work any harder than necessary. Use caching tools and front end accelerators to improve your website’s performance. We use NGinx and Varnish.
The purpose is to get any static pages or parts of pages you can to load as quickly as possible for customers and with minimum resource usage for your sever.
Use a CDN
Similarly, a content delivery network (CDN) is another way to improve site speed and performance. By hosting any images and media on the CDN - as opposed to your main server - you are relieving your server of a major use of its resources.
There is no good reason why a Black Friday ecommerce plan shouldn’t include a CDN. It’s a very easy win for all online retailers.
Proactively track usage
The final of our Black Friday tips is to use monitoring tools to keep a watchful eye on your server. Ideally, start that as soon as possible so you can see what’s happening when you get traffic spikes on a regular day. This will help you to understand what level or type of usage risks taking your server to its capacity. That will be useful information ahead of Black Friday, but also going forward.
Monitoring your server usage on Black Friday itself will help you to prepare for busy days in the future.
If you have any questions about putting these Black Friday tips into action, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.