Cash in on the holiday shopping surge

By: Doug Jones

Source: Big promotional days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday that got their start in the US are now major online shopping days for consumers around the world. According to Akamai's State of Online Retail Performance report, Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017 were just as popular internationally as in the US. Here are some tips for preparing for the surge of traffic to retail websites from all sources.

Big promotional days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday that got their start in the US are now major online shopping days for consumers around the world. According to Akamai’s State of Online Retail Performance report, Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017 were just as popular internationally as in the US. Website conversion rate increases were common and significantly higher than the previous year across the UK, Germany, France, Spain and other countries. In the UK, for example, year-over-year conversion rates soared with a 42-percent increase on Black Friday and 35-percent increase on Cyber Monday compared to the prior year.

But the question is: With 143% more customers acquired during peak periods versus. the rest of the year how can you best capitalize on this trend and ready your online business — including web and mobile assets — for global visitors?

Here are some tips for preparing for the surge of traffic to retail websites from all sources.

Be prepared for bigger-than-ever traffic peaks

You need to be ready for higher and more dispersed website visitor volume. Is your infrastructure prepared to handle this growth? How will your performance or user experience be affected? What about traffic peaks from different regions across the globe?

Now is the time to have a conversation with your web and IT teams about the state of your web and mobile performance as part of your holiday preparations. Analyze your application data to understand device performance trends and optimize as needed. Pushing your web infrastructure and applications to the limit and testing from highly distributed locations to simulate global spikes in advance of the prime shopping season helps identify challenges before it’s too late.

If you’re considering running your ERP applications on the cloud, make sure they are hosted on the right platform in the right environment that can handle traffic peaks. You may want to attend this helpful webinar to discover the top five questions to ask when selecting a cloud model.

Have a contingency plan

Even if you believe you’re fully prepared to meet global peaks, complications can always occur, causing major slowdowns and even complete web or app shutdowns. When nearly one-third of your yearly revenue is at stake, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance. There are three main points to consider when developing a contingency plan:

  1. Have a disaster recovery in place

If your site becomes unavailable, be prepared with a static browsable version of your website that has been recently cached. This approach will bode much better than a standard browser error that frustrates your customers. Assess your app and infrastructure’s vulnerability to DDoS attacks to avoid downtime.

  1. Ensure 100 percent uptime and enable quick downloads for videos

Inventory your pages in that cache, starting with the most important. Your number one priority is enabling customers to find and buy your products, so product pages and reviews should be prioritized. Estimates are that you have one second to engage with mobile users, so make sure you’re ready to take advantage when the opportunity arises.

  1. Develop professional relationships

Consider working with an organization that offers skilled professional services to assist you in setting up and managing security and availability functions during your peak event. Work with your cloud providers to ensure your sites and apps will scale adequately to meet demand.

Emphasize experiencetailored to every user

Shopper behavior, needs, and expected experiences differ based on location and even culture. You must cater experiences to each user. With more than half of the worldwide population having access to the internet, you need to meet expectations of virtually any visitor across the globe. You must ensure contextual optimizations create great experiences for every user. From location-based translations to accepting payments in native currencies and special shipping pages and rates, to providing a viable shopping destination for international shoppers, you must consider their experiences end to end.

Another key consideration here is the device and platform through which your site is being accessed. For example, there are currently almost as many smartphone users in India as there are people in the United States. And that number is poised for explosive growth over the next few years. If a sizable portion of your global customers come from South Asia, for example, your mobile website and applications must be optimized and tailored for the best experience for these shoppers.

The devil is in the (lack of) details

Gone are the days of relying on synthetic visitor monitoring and testing methods that simply emulate user behavior. To get a leg up on the competition this holiday season and beyond, online retailers need to monitor, capture and analyze behavioral data from their real users and their devices. This visibility allows you to pinpoint trends and gain insights to deliver a smooth shopping experience.

For example, continuous monitoring and analysis may show you that visitors in Germany are abandoning the transaction at checkout. Having this information at the ready gives your web team the information to investigate and fix the issue causing abandonments such as failed translations or missing international shipping information caused by a third-party service outage.

Capitalizing on online holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers retailers their best opportunity to increase sales and win customers in expanded markets. Preparing your digital business for this time may seem daunting at first. Set yourself up for success by sticking to these four key considerations:

  1. Anticipate traffic scaling
  2. Develop a disaster recovery plan
  3. Understand different user experiences
  4. Use customer data efficiently

Learn more about holiday readiness from an IBM® Edge Delivery Services Expert. and request your complimentary consultation today.

SOURCES: Akamai’s State of the internet Report, NRF, eMarketer, www.contentmarketinginstitute.com, www.leadfeeder.com, www.queue-it.com

Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,

Big promotional days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday that got their start in the US are now major online shopping days for consumers around the world. According to Akamai's State of Online Retail Performance report, Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2017 were just as popular internationally as in the US. Here are some tips for preparing for the surge of traffic to retail websites from all sources.

About The Author

Doug Jones

Global Sales Leader for Edge Delivery Services

Doug Jones is the Global Sales Leader for the Edge Delivery Services portfolio within the IBM Services for Managed Applications organization. With more than 20 years of industry experience, his background covers such areas as web hosting and cloud computing. Doug can be reached at dmjones@us.ibm.com

One thought on “Cash in on the holiday shopping surge”

  1. Zoli Laczko    28 days ago

    great blog Doug! very business relevant value points.

Post a comment