Getting your e-commerce website ready to cope with January sales traffic

Are you expecting lots of traffic to your e-commerce website to shop in you January sale? Here are some pointers on planning ahead to make sure that your website remains available and you are not missing out on sales.

Posted on 18 December 2014 - e-commerce flash crowds Retail
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Tell people what you're planning

Have you got a big PPC campaign kicking off on Boxing Day? Will 20,000 email subscribers similtaneously receive a discount code on New Year's Day? Whatever your marketing plans, the people responsible for keeping your website available need to know in advance.

Tell your hosting company or IT department which products are in the sale, what your sales plans are and any associated marketing activity.

Sound out the experts

As well as telling your hosting company or IT team what you're planning, get them to tell you what they are planning? What measures are being put in place to ensure the website will handle traffic spikes during the sale? Get them to commit to providing the infrastructure to support the January sale beforehand, rather than allowing them to make excuses when it's too late.

Check your database server capacity

Availability problems with e-commerce websites are almost always down to problems with the database server capacity. Make some enquiries about this before the sale starts to see if you have the capacity to cope with the level of traffic you're expecting.

Make sure you have a flexible hosting environment

Is your website hosted in such a way that extra resources will be allocated to cope with sudden spikes in traffic. If not, consider buying additional capacity to help the website cope with the busy period.

Cache as much of your content as possible

Use a cache so that large chunks of your website load very quickly, which will help to avoid draining resources. Tolerate longer caching periods when you're expecting a traffic spike. For instance, maybe two minutes instead of 30 seconds. 

Use front end accelerators

Try using NGinx and Varnish - both of which are free and will improve your website's performance during busy periods - to accelerate page load and get people onto your site and buying products more quickly.

Got any questions about how your website will handle the January sale? Just get in touch.