The impact of Covid-19 has changed life as we know it and has rapidly accelerated the digital shift and the need for retail providers to invest in technologies and infrastructure to handle the increased online usage.
Now, 40 percent of UK shoppers have said they shop more online compared to before the pandemic. It's looking as though the retail sector is expecting a busy Christmas period.
Therefore, it is more important than ever that your infrastructure can keep up with the busy demand and surge in traffic in the run up to the Christmas period.
In this guide, we explain how you can prepare your infrastructure for the busy Christmas period.
Prepare for contingencies
Before we dive into the methods, it’s important to start by trying to plan for any unexpected events or website crashes. It’s vital to prepare your infrastructure to prevent and avoid outages or delays, as this could lead to a sudden decrease in revenue and damage to your reputation.
A great way to prepare for this, is by reviewing historic web and traffic data to gauge an approximate estimation of how busy your website may get.
Ramp up your resources to support the surge in traffic
Prioritise improving your support services such as boosting the necessary computing and storage resources and increasing your online customer support offering to keep up with the demand.
In retail, the Christmas period is one of the busiest times of the year and how you perform, such as number of sales and revenue generated will be a significant indication of how successful your year has been.
Any sort of downtime or long virtual queues can be the driving factor for consumers to shop and spend elsewhere.
In a world that’s so fast pace, people are less likely to stick around and wait for your site to perform. Do not underestimate the negative impact a large traffic peak can have on your cloud hosting or servers. The provider you use should make it easy for you to gauge resources before and after the demanding sales periods.
Increase your website loading speed
According to Sleek Note, 57 percent of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if they have to wait 3 or more seconds for a page to load.
Having a fast web page load speed should be top priority throughout the festive season. Not only does this massively benefit your site through this season, but it’s also a perk throughout the whole year. Improving your websites load speed is an investment all round.
If customers are left waiting when it comes to buying a product or service online, they are more likely to exit and try a different site. For this reason, making sure your site is optimized to perform at its fastest possible speed is top priority to prevent yourself from losing visits and sales.
Keep your content closer to customers with CDN
A useful way to make your site work quicker is by using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) as it allows your content to be retained from a server that is closer to the user rather than the main server farm. By doing this step, your site’s loading speed will significantly increase.
With local shopping on the rise, this is a great opportunity for small and medium companies to improve their visibility and attract more customers both on and offline.
Enhance your security to avoid cyberattacks
Having solid cybersecurity in our ever-growing digital world is one of the most important steps of this process, especially in the Black Friday and Christmas months. Your aim is for customers to feel confident enough that their data will be kept safe in your site. Any attacks to your site can have a damaging effect on your business’ reputation and finances, which is why it’s imperative to have measures such as VPNs, firewalls, SSL certifications to help prevent unsolicited users from your site.
Updating your site’s UX
The importance of UX cannot be overlooked, if a website is poorly laid out, slow or difficult to use, the user is more likely to leave and not return. Whilst also losing out on traffic to your website, it also discredits your brand or product. You need to be testing your site’s usability to avoid any customers bouncing because they can’t get your site to work, the last thing you want is this to decrease your conversion rate.
The most effective way to test your UX is by testing actual customer journeys, this way you can see what your consumers sees and experiences. Checking things such as purchase processes and seeing if anything needs amending is the best way to confirm that your customers will have a solid buying journey. It’s also important to remember to make sure that your landing page works hand in hand with your ads.
Consumers have a much shorter patience for website errors or poor quality as there are so many other competitors that can offer the same with a functioning site. Your own experience online shopping should give you a solid understanding of what’s expected and what a customer is looking for, therefore using this knowledge, and putting it into practice on your own site should lead to a positive customer experience and success.