Black Friday and Cyber Monday are among the busiest shopping days in the year - but is your website ready to cope with that demand? If it’s not, you could be alienating customers and losing sales.Posted on 07 October 2015 - e-commerce
Every year, despite the predictability and precise timing of traffic surges, we see retailers who did not prepare sufficiently and whose websites become unavailable as a result.
That is totally unnecessary because there are simple steps you can take to ensure that your website can cope with traffic spikes.
This year, Black Friday is on November 27, 2015, so now is the time to start preparing. Here are some things you can do to get your website ready:
The easiest way to ensure your server can deal with Black Friday traffic surges is to opt for a flexible and hosting environment. In there words, your server’s capacity is able to increase as needed, then shrink back down so that you don’t pay for resources you don’t need. A private cloud hosting environment is usually a convenient to achieve this while maintaining more security than in the public cloud.
Not everyone will know it’s Black Friday in advance and they certainly won’t know what sales or marketing activities you’ve planned, so make sure you tell them.
Explaining to your hosting company or your in-house IT team precisely what you are hoping to achieve will give them time to put the infrastructure in place to cope.
That way, there are far fewer excuses after the event If the site still fails to cope with demand.
When e-commerce websites are hit by problems, database server capacity is nearly always the cause. So when you’re talking to your web host or IT people, bring up the topic of your database server so they can invest in more ‘oomph’, if necessary.
As well as having the right server infrastructure in place, it is important to put the tools in place to make life as easy as possible for your server. Using content caches lightens the load on the server by creating cached versions of the content that is being served regularly.
Tools like NGINX and Varnish can lead to 20-times improvements in performance when a flash crowd descends on your website, without noticeable impact on user experience.
In the event that something does go wrong, the best thing is to be use monitoring systems to see what’s happening so that you can foresee problems or at least react to them quickly.
Any information you gather will also be invaluable in helping to improve performance for you next traffic spike.