Businesses that rely heavily on e-commerce – as most do these days – know that there are three principal issues which can reduce the effectiveness of their site. This blog is the first in Josh Hatfield's three-part series, “3 Problems that Plague E-Commerce Sites.” Check back in for subsequent entries the next two weeks.
Every year, a series of predictable, avoidable failures occurs. Big-name brands are punished for their lack of preparedness as the peak season arrives. It reduces their profits, knocks their brand down a peg, and serves as a reminder that anyone can suffer the consequences.
Call it Spike Overflow Syndrome – the S.O.S. sent out by a company’s IT staff when the walls come crashing down. In 2015, Target was a victim of Black Friday failures. Neiman Marcus struggled for consecutive days during peak gift-buying season, while PayPal went down on Cyber Monday and the day before.
For smaller retailers, it’s a stark reminder: Traffic can surge without warning, and websites generally go down when the most money is coming in. So how can you prevent your e-commerce site from buckling under pressure? Here are three suggestions.
Lighten Your Landing Page Load
Which pages on your site get visited the most? Probably your home page, any Google ads landing pages you have, destinations of links in emails, and so on. Ensure those load fast: two out of every five users will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Maximize this speed by making your landing pages as light as possible. It’s a delicate balancing act to lighten the load while keeping the site compelling. But to keep your site up and running during spikes, it’s a crucial one.
Use a Content Delivery Network
A high-quality CDN, and offsite source for images, will enable faster page load times, better video streaming and smoother shopping cart processing. Web-hosting providers and telecommunications providers offer CDNs, as well as third-party specialists. Many employ geographically diverse servers to ensure faster load times for visitors around the world.
Move to the Cloud
To increase bandwidth during peak seasons without paying for maximum volume year-round, embrace a cloud hosting model. This way, you can quickly add computing power for those occasional spikes, then reduce capacity when they end.
Prepare now for Cyber Monday 2016 – or for any other traffic spike.