Can Your Commerce Systems Handle Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
The 2017 holiday season was one for the ages. According to Adobe, the season accounted for $108.2 billion in online sales. Black Friday alone drove over $5 billion of that number.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are hands down the busiest 24-hour periods on the eCommerce calendar. For most retailers, these two events can make or break their yearly results – hence the “black” in Black Friday.
These two days also represent a threat to retailers who are inadequately prepared to handle the shopping hordes as they descend on sites looking for deals, bargains, and gifts. Every year, there are stories about huge brands being unable to support the spikes in traffic that accompany the holidays. Unfortunately, these stability issues keep customers from logging in, checking out, or even accessing the site as a whole.
More importantly, these issues are anathema to today’s experience-obsessed consumers. Presented with a clunky or downright unusable digital shopping path, shoppers will sound off on social media and go and take their billions elsewhere.
Looking through multiple holiday outlooks for 2018, leading industry experts are predicting a 14% increase in online retail sales. Companies have been striving to optimize their sites in the prior months to attract, engage, and convert buyers.
The smartest companies, though, have been busy ensuring that their systems are able to handle the traffic spikes inherent to the holidays.
For retailers who own their own infrastructure, load testing needs to be a key component of this holiday preparation. Essentially, this involves stress testing various functions and experiential aspects of the site to ensure they remain stable under heavy user loads. Strategies such as high-value load testing are paramount to driving every bit of profitability out of the holiday season.
Other retailers have moved their commerce systems to a cloud-based model. With these systems, companies are paying for stability and scalability. Computing capacity is adjusted according to demand, and this preserves a positive customer experience as well as efficiently manages costs, as retailers aren’t paying for the computing power that they aren’t using.
A Unified Holiday Season
There is no such thing as purely online or offline shoppers anymore. Consumers are using various devices and channels throughout their journey, and retailers that can offer seamless experiences between channels are going to find themselves in the money this holiday season.
In 2018, we are going to see the continued rise of mobile commerce, as shoppers continue to flock to their phones to access sites and make purchases. In 2017, mobile phones accounted for 61% of Black Friday retail traffic, driving a whopping 46% of sales. These numbers are only going to grow in 2018.
Retailers have begun to react to these changing trends and are delivering increasingly effective mobile experiences. Notoriously fickle mobile conversion rates shot up 10% last year, and experts predict similar growth in 2018 as these strategies become increasingly sophisticated and personalized.
Digital commerce is even extending into brick-and-mortar stores, as retailers are increasingly utilizing their commerce technology to mine customer data and deliver a personalized experience wherever that shopper may be.
Ready Or Not, Here It Comes
Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 will look to reinforce retail’s rapid transformation with record-setting traffic and sales. The threat of lost opportunity looms large, however, for retailers without the reliable and scalable bandwidth to keep their sites and technology running strong.
Look for retailers that run on scalable platforms or who’ve performed robust load testing throughout the year to win big come the end of November and through the rest of the year.