With the growth in popularity of online retailing and technological advancement, today, E-Commerce customer expectations are sky-high. Over the last years, in particular, Amazon Prime and same-day delivery have fueled customers’ ‘want it now’ mentality.
Now, you might be thinking that you’re not competing with Amazon. But the truth is, your customers have the exact same expectations.
During Black Friday, the ‘want it now’ mentality is even stronger. Because of this, we’ve prepared a list of things you should check off to ensure you meet your customers’ eCommerce expectations:
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Black Friday E-Commerce customer expectations
1. 0 downtime
This is, by far, the most important thing you should check off your list. If you’re expecting your revenue to grow exponentially this year, you should make sure your website is actually available during Black Friday. Even 10 minutes of downtime can translate into millions of dollars lost.
And downtime doesn’t just affect your bottom line, but your reputation as well. Customers will remember their frustrations long after the event will be over.
To avoid downtime, you need to:
- Perform a stress test – stress tests help you analyze your current infrastructure and see how much it can handle. For efficient stress tests, you should check every single component of your infrastructure (hardware, software, configurations, etc.).
- Prepare a highly scalable infrastructure – once you determine how much your infrastructure can handle, you need to think about how much more your traffic will increase during Black Friday. Don’t rely on auto scalers! Although they’re great tools, you should enable them after you’ve optimized your infrastructure, as they were not built to sustain sudden increases in traffic.
- Draft a pre-mortem – no infrastructure is 100% foolproof; that’s why you need to think of every single thing that could go wrong and prepare a fix. Some things could be out of your control (for example, your hosting provider could experience an outage). But it’s better to prepare a plan in advance than trying to do damage control on the day of the event.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can prepare your eCommerce website for Black Friday, check out our ultimate Black Friday technical checklist.
And if you’re still not convinced, let us give you an example of what a few minutes of downtime can mean to your business.
Last year, Microcenter’s website was down for about 45 minutes. As their advertisements were still running on social media, this fueled customers’ anger even more. In the end, they chose to switch to a competitor. You can check out their story, as well as a few others, here.
2. High Load Time
Although a slow website is not as bad as an unavailable website, it’s still detrimental to your revenue. An Akamai study shows that:
- a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7%;
- a two-second delay in web page load time increases bounce rates by 103%;
- 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
That’s merciless! So how can you ensure a high load time? You need to:
- apply CSS3 and HTML5;
- avoid using big images and carousels;
- leverage browser caching.
Increased reliability and uptime can also be achieved through load balancing. One thing you should keep in mind here is how fast can a new server take over the traffic load. The higher this number (and we’re talking about seconds here!), the higher the chances your website will crash.
Additionally, you can check out this list of common reasons e-commerce websites crash during Black Friday and how to solve them.
3. High Data Security
During Black Friday, you’re operating with a high load of confidential data – just think of all the customers who pay online. Because of this, your website might be more susceptible to cyberattacks than any other time of the year. In fact, DDoS attacks are not unusual on Black Friday!
Many eCommerce websites overlook this aspect, but data security should be a priority. To make sure your customers’ data is safe, you need to install and configure a Web Application Firewall (WAF) and configure Rate Limiting on your web server. To make them even more efficient, you can configure them on an external component like Cloudflare.
Don’t take this lightly! In 2018, Amazon confirmed that their customers’ names and email addresses had been disclosed because of a data leak caused by a programming error. The fact that the retail giant wasn’t hacked in the traditional sense was cold comfort for the thousands of users whose data was compromised.
4. Correct stock
There’s nothing more annoying than thinking you’ve managed to get a deal, only to find out you actually didn’t, because of a technical error.
Admittedly, this is not as serious a problem as the previous ones we’ve mentioned, but it’s equally annoying for your customers.
What causes incorrect stocks to be displayed? Autoscalers. If you’re relying on an autoscaler instead of properly preparing your infrastructure for Black Friday, your stocks might be incorrectly displayed, and customers might be unable to purchase. To avoid this, use a master-slave architecture for your database.
Can you Meet Your Customers’ Expectations During Black Friday 2021?
To prevent downtime and offer your customers the best experience possible, you need to prepare your infrastructure in advance (most retailers start preparing for Black Friday in September).
Here are the 4 steps you should follow:
- Performing an infrastructure discovery analysis – use your last year’s statistics as a starting point;
- Stress-testing every hardware and software component of your infrastructure;
- Coming up with solutions for each identified issue;
- Scaling your infrastructure (but don’t rely on auto-scaling).
The good news is we can help you with all this! Last year, more than 1500 eCommerce businesses used Bunnyshell to:
- evaluate their infrastructure;
- perform personalized stress-tests;
- optimize their infrastructure;
- improve scalability;
- increase reliability and uptime.
Take our offer
The clock is ticking! You only have 59 more days to prepare. Do you want to ensure record sales? Or lose in favor of your competitors because you can’t meet E-Commerce customer expectations? The choice is yours.