If you’re like online retail site Shopatron (cited in this post this week), you make most of your money during the holiday shopping season, and that’s why it’s imperative that you make sure your site is tuned to deal with holiday rush now — before that holiday rush starts bombarding your servers.
And it looks like in an economy, that shall we say, has yet to fully recover, this is even more important. As I was driving into the airport yesterday, I heard report that Nordstrom had already announced it was offering free shipping for online purchases with no minimum purchase this holiday season. And it’s hardly alone in trying to lure customers to buy online.
In fact, The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that online jewler Stauer was offering a $249 necklace for free, provided you pay $24.95 for shipping and handling. The strategy is to get the traffic and hope users buy other things while they’re there.
That could indicate that the competition for retail dollars is going to particularly fierce this season, so it’s even more important that your web site is fully tuned to deal with whatever traffic your marketing team could generate. The more outrageous the offers, the more likely your site is going to get hit hard, and that means you have to be ready.
Everyone knows about Black Friday of course, and it goes without saying you have to gear up for that day, but you can’t assume that will be the only day you get heavy traffic, and if you’re like Shopatron, you want to start testing your systems load times now.
According to the post, Shopatron sees web site performance as a way to differentiate itself from the competition. If your competition is loading slowly, you want to be the web site loading faster. And Shopatron hopes to up and ready to shop in 2.5 seconds.
Whether that’s too fast or too slow for your site depends on your own individual company definition of success, but it’s always a good idea to make sure you have your monitoring ducks in a row before the holiday shopping season is underway.
If you anticipate problems, rather than waiting for you tools to pick them up, you can keep your site visitors happy, and that’s especially important during the holidays.
If you can get ahead of the traffic, it’s going to give your site a tactical advantage when it comes to keeping customers. If you have a great sale, but people are having trouble accessing the site, it could end up doing more harm than good, no matter how good the deal may be.
As we reported last month, Target’s web site got caught in a stamped of traffic when it launched a line of low-cost clothing from the Italian designer, Missoni. It took down the site for the better part of a day and it caused a lot of negative reactions on social networks as unhappy customers vented their frustrations in public.
As we head into this holiday shopping season, especially in a questionable economic climate, you want to do your best to control all of those factors that you can to make your customer’s experience on your web site as smooth as possible. Otherwise, you could end up with the opposite reaction you were hoping for and that could cost you money