March 6, 2014

The Other Holiday Seasons: Is Your Website Ready?


Hostway Team

Students throwing graduation hatsJust when you thought you could breathe easy with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas behind you: The next holiday season for online retailers is right around the corner: Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduations.

While these holidays won't come close to the traffic experienced on Black Friday – when a record 66 million shoppers spent a whopping $1.2 billion – they will spread a little mid-season cheer for online retailers who experience the majority of their sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Is your e-commerce website – and your web hosting company – ready for another spike? Let's take a look at three things you can do to get ready for your next big holiday season:

1) Be aware of your page load times and take steps to reduce them. Reducing image sizes and implementing content delivery networks (CDNs) are two of the best things websites can do to deliver pages faster. CDNs bring your content closer to your global customers by continuously pulling and caching content from your server and distributing it to secure servers around the world. The recommended page load time is three seconds or less.

2) Make sure your web hosting provider can support your need to burst. Many e-commerce websites have dedicated servers to support their traffic, but in slow or booming times those dedicated servers can be under- or over-utilized. Creating a hybrid hosting scenario can ensure you have high base capacity with fixed costs through dedicated hosting, while providing elastic traffic handling on a pay-as-you-use model through cloud hosting.

3) Ensure your data is backed up, preferably in a secondary location. Data backup is like an insurance policy: you hope you never have to use it, but when you do, you're happy you made the investment. Having your website crash is traumatic, and losing customer data in the process is catastrophic. You can rest more easily knowing that your customer data is protected and can be restored quickly in case of an outage.

It's important to know the cost to your business if your website is not ready for the masses. A recent report from the Ponemon Institute and Emerson Network Power indicates each minute of an unplanned website outage can cost companies $7,900 per minute, on average, up from $5,600 in 2010. Can your business really afford to lose out on that kind of revenue? Making sure your website is ready to go will ensure you don't miss out on a single dollar.

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