Black Friday website crashes

How to avoid critical Black Friday website crashes and prepare for Black Friday 2020

Black Friday is the most important event of the year for eCommerce shops. However, it’s not a stress-free day for most online retailers. Why? Because there are many technical issues that can cause Black Friday website crashes.

Website crashes equal downtime, lost customers, and of course, lost revenue.

Summary

In this article, we are going to show you the main problems that cause Black Friday website crashes. This way, you will know what you are up against and understand why you need to prepare ahead of time for the spending event of the year. 

Black Friday website crashes affect your revenue

In 2019, even the best retailers experienced website crashes. Costco, Walmart, and J. Crew said goodbye to millions of dollars due to a lack of tech prep work. 

  • In J.Crew’s case, the company lost 323,000 shoppers who were about to bring $775,000 in about 5 hours. 
  • Walmart lost $9 million in just 150 minutes.
  • Costco said goodbye to $11 million because their website was down for more than 16h. 

The reason behind this? These websites were not technically ready to sustain a sudden increase in traffic and lacked a well-performed cloud infrastructure testing.

To make waves during the holiday shopping season, eCommerce websites have to be whip-quick and bug-free. This means that you need to know the main problems that can lead to a full website crash, and traffic peaks are not the only ones. 

Technical problems that can cause Black Friday website crashes

Technical issues are common when it comes to eCommerce websites. While small online shops don’t have enough resources to prepare for traffic spikes, big retailers have problems due to unexpected issues. 

While a simple website glitch can be solved in a matter of seconds, a full website crash can last for hours. When you know the main causes, you can prepare for the worst. 

In this section, we will show you the most common technical problems experienced by eCommerce shops all over the world. 

 

1. Code errors

Coding is a delicate task, as you probably know. Any software engineer will confirm that a simple typo can cause your entire website to crash in no time. 

What causes code errors: 

  • Human errors: the code had a typo or was not configured properly

How to spot this issue: 

Have you deployed anything recently? If the answer is yes, then that is the best thing to start with. If there weren’t any changes made recently, your developer will need to conduct an analysis to see where the code errors started. 

How to prevent this issue: 

The best way to prevent this from happening is to stay away for any free or outdated themes and tools. Also, investing a bit more in development will help you save money in the long run. 

 

 2. Plugin problems

Another issue that can lead to a website crash during Black Friday is a plugin problem. For your eCommerce you have a lot of plugins, anything from social media plugins to the review section plugin. 

What causes plugin errors: 

  • Unfortunately, many plugins are made by third parties and they are not safe. 

How to spot this issue: 

First, we recommend looking at the last plugins you installed. If you uninstall them and the problem persists, you might need to check each one individually. 

How to prevent this problem: 

In the future, try to install as few plugins as possible. Also, make sure that you only install plugins that are created by trusted providers.  

 

 3. Cybersecurity attacks

The most dreaded problem every eCommerce hopes to avoid – malicious attacks. Cybercriminals are on the rise, especially during important events, such as Black Friday.  Cybersecurity attacks happen every 39 seconds

What causes a cyber attack: 

  • A poorly designed website infrastructure that easy to hack

How to spot this issue: 

One of the most common types of cyber attacks is the Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS). A DDoS attack is a type of cybercrime in which a website is flooded with traffic. The easiest way to spot it is to check the source of the traffic. 

How to prevent this problem: 

Make your website extra-secure. During these times, it is better to overdo it when it comes to security. A site defender can help you protect your eCommerce platform’s infrastructure from this type of cyber attack. 

 

 4. DNS errors

DNS is how your users find your shop online. However, DNS providers can also be attacked by cybercriminals. For instance, back in 2016, DNS provider Dyn suffered a DDoS attack which led to several website crashes, including Shopify and Twitter.

What causes a DNS error: 

  • A DNS provider that experiences a cyber attack or any other technical problems

How to spot this problem: 

Check out to see if your DNS provider has any technical problems. If this is not the case, ask your DNS provider if there were any updates or changes made recently.

How to prevent this problem: 

All you can do in this case is to wait for your provider to solve the issue or to wait for the updates to take place. You can also check your nameservers to see if they’re pointing to the correct place. 

 

 5. Expired domain

We all make mistakes and forgetting to renew your domain happens from time to time. However, this mistake can cost you a lot of money due to a website crash. 

What causes this problem: 

  • You did not renew your domain

How to spot the problem: 

Log in to your hosting account and check to see if the domain has indeed expired. 

How to prevent this problem: 

Set up a WHOIS/Domain Expiry check to remind you at least 20 days before expiration. You’ll receive an alert when your expiration date is near so you can take care of it.

 

 6. Traffic spikes

Everybody loves to have a lot of traffic on their online shop during Black Friday, but this is one of the most common problems that cause website crashes. If your infrastructure was designed to sustain 1000 users and you receive 10000, your website will definitely crash. 

What causes this problem: 

  • A large number of shoppers enter your website at the same time. 
  • A DDoS attack 

How to spot this issue: 

This is an easy one: All you have to do is check to see how many visitors you have on your website in real time. 

How to prevent this problem: 

Inspect and adapt your infrastructure ahead of time. Automatic scaling can help you solve this issue. 

 

 7. Hosting provider/server error

This is another common cause for website crashes. Your hosting provider can experience difficulties during Black Friday, especially if it hosts a lot of eCommerce platforms. Also, on site servers might also suffer from certain problems which can lead to errors (HTML Error 500) and eventually your website can crash. 

What causes this problem: 

  • Severe weather can cause an outage which will affect servers
  • Poorly designed website/cloud infrastructure

How to spot this problem: 

Check to see if your hosting provider/cloud provider experiences any problems. 

How to prevent this problem: 

Migrating to the cloud is the best way to prevent any hosting provider issues. 

 

Other technical problems you need to avoid during Black Friday

Not all technical errors can lead to website crashes, but they can make you lose clients and revenue. 

 1. Poor load time

Poor load time is unacceptable for most shoppers searching for the best Black Friday offers. This is why you need to keep an eye on how fast your website loads both on desktop and mobile devices. 

The benchmark for an eCommerce website when it comes to load time is 2 seconds. Statistics show that users won’t wait more than 4 seconds for a website to load. 

What causes this problem: 

  • Traffic spikes
  • Poorly designed infrastructure
  • Too many images, carousels and other graphics

How to spot this problem

Check the load time of your website regularly. See when it tends to load poorly and if it is caused by traffic spikes or another issue. The benchmark for an eCommerce website when it comes to load time is 2 seconds. 

How to prevent this problem

Remove anything that is not important from the website. Check the load time everytime you make any changes on your eCommerce platform. 

 

 2. Personal data leaks

GDPR is essential, and leaking personal information can affect your brand’s image and cost you a lot of money. 

What causes this issue: 

  • Weak passwords
  • Limited infrastructure
  • Simple human error 

How to spot this problem: 

It is hard to see a data breach before it happens. This is why you need to be very careful with personal information of your clients. 

How to prevent this problem:

Data encryption is used to prevent this sort of problem from happening. Also, always collaborate with trusted partners and providers. 

 

Prevent Black Friday website crashes with Bunnyshell

If you want to Prepare your website’s reliability for Black Friday ahead of time and make sure you have all hands on deck in order to solve problems as quickly as possible, see how Bunnyshell can help you. 

We’ve designed a full-stack solution for Black Friday that allows e-commerce businesses to solve any problem quickly and avoid losing thousands of dollars on Black Friday 2020.

Check out all the details and talk to our experts to prevent any technical errors and avoid website downtime during Black Friday 2020.