The UK retail industry witnessed one of the largest spending weekends in history last week as shoppers battled for Black Friday bargains and cashed in on Cyber Monday.
Our research found that over half of all retailers who ran promotions on Black Friday in the UK had website issues. The website crashes and spending are set to continue next week as Manic Monday, the last day for guaranteed online Christmas delivery, rolls around.
A word of advice to retailers – follow these tips to avoid Manic Monday chaos and keep your website running smoothly:
1. Separate transactions from content
Retailers that experienced transactional power issues on Black Friday or Cyber Monday should, if possible, offload static content to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to prevent unnecessary slowing. However, if a CDN is not in place already, it would be unwise to implement one at this point.
Having contingency procedures in place is vital to ensure that retailers are prepared should a website run into trouble during busy periods. Holding pages allow retailers to segment visitors ensuring a steady trickle of traffic onto the main site, as used by Curry’s on Black Friday.
Another tactic is cancelling all un-cacheable content, such as a highly personalised content or recommendations that may slow down the transactional power of the site.
Another essential element to look at is bandwidth. Prior liaison with your hosting provider to ensure that you have a load balancer in front of each server will ensure that traffic is fielded more evenly, preventing delays and visitor build-up so that your site can sustain the peak traffic.
In modern multichannel retailing it is somewhat passé to reserve stock for specific channels, such as in-store or online exclusives. However, if an item is bought in-store before sales staff have a chance to grab it for an online order, this will lead to disappointed and frustrated customers.
At this time of year, even if you have a good single view of your stock with near real-time updates, on the peak days this Christmas trading period retailers should create generous stock buffers for store fulfilment or turn off fulfilment for online orders from the busiest or smallest stores.