Every retailer knows the importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This largely American tradition has made it over the pond and is here to stay.
On Black Friday in 2016, shoppers spent more than £1.23 billion, which equates to £51.2 million an hour. This represented a 12% increase from 2015.
Whether you’re a small business or large retailer, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sees shoppers looking for a bargain for the upcoming festive period. The bonus of increased sales and extra profit can provide a boost for your business, but are your website and communications tools prepared for the influx of traffic and interest?
Get your website ready. Talk to your providers to check that increased traffic will not slow it down or, worse still, bring it down! Your customers’ first point of call is your website. It’s where they will view items, compare prices and inevitably purchase your goods. Any downtime can result in a loss of revenue and disgruntled customers who will have a negative opinion of your website and business.
Assuming Cyber Monday sales are spread evenly throughout a 24-hour day, one hour of downtime would translate to 5% of sales lost if buyers leave a retailer's website out of frustration. However, given that peak sales are typically highest during the early afternoon EST, downtime during that period could mean even greater revenue losses.
Your telephone system
Check your telephone system can handle increased incoming calls and you can answer every call in a timely fashion so you don’t miss a sale. Your provider should be able to assist you in setting up additional lines or channels, running tests and even helping you analyse call traffic so you can plan your resources accordingly.
Here are some quick proactive steps swcomms would encourage you to take ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:
1. Planning is the key
Whether your website is hosted by another company or in-house, start planning early with all teams involved. Get the advice and assurances from your teams that they can manage the increased website traffic and customer calls. Your hosting company should provide additional resources to limit the risk of any downtime.
2. Tell them everything
Let your provider know your plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Updating your internal team is essential but also letting your external provider know your plans gives them the chance to plan with you. Include details such as commercial TV/radio advertising or online digital media campaigns to ensure they are ready for increased website and call traffic.
3. Ensure you have a resilient hosting environment
Every website is susceptible to unplanned spikes in traffic. Your provider should be able to provide a flexible hosting environment that allows you to scale up the amount of bandwidth you require for your website and database for those planned and unplanned spikes.
4. Consider scaling and resourcing
Your provider should have the capacity to scale resources during peak times by using in-house hosting, cloud storage or a hybrid model. You should also consider flexing up your staff numbers to cope with increased customer ordering, queries or complaints.
5. Prepare for downtime
What plans have you scoped out and what back up plans have been formulated to safeguard your retail business against downtime? Have you shared and discussed these with your hosting provider? Have you tested the resiliency of your website and telephone systems?
6. Keep offers under wraps
If the campaigns and/or plans require high levels of confidentiality on special offers or announcements, you should agree to get your provider to sign a non-disclosure agreement beforehand.
Maintained by a certified networking and security team with years of experience, we at swcomms provide scalable, high availability, flexible hosting, connectivity and telephony services.
swcomms recognises today's trends and the impacts upon managing bandwidth requirements to scale and meet clients’ ever-changing needs. With our own data centre, swcomms can provide retail customers with the flexibility and scalability to manage web and voice traffic to ensure your company, your customers, and your brand does not suffer a real Black Friday due to network failures.
Contact me today to find out more.