While there are still a few weeks left of summer remaining, now is the time for online retailers to start thinking about the their eCommerce websites and the looming holidays. With online holiday shopping in the US alone topping $37 billion in 2011, can you truly afford to have website performance and availability issues this season? Every second of downtime and latency impacts shoppers’ online experiences and their decision to purchase from you.
As you begin to plan for the upcoming spike in shopping traffic, there are two fundamental elements to consider that impact your eCommerce website performance and speed:
1. Fine-tuning the design, development and user experience of your website.
2. Optimizing the performance, availability and scalability of the infrastructure powering your eCommerce site.
Get a jump-start on your planning with these best practices:
Brush Up on Your eCommerce Website's History
Understanding historic traffic patterns can give you an idea of what to expect. When can you expect to hit your peak traffic load? How many visitors at any given minute? How many simultaneous checkouts? How does your marketing impact your traffic flow? Utilize a combination of traffic history, metrics and analytics to help you prepare. If you haven’t historically tracked this type of information, plan for this year and try to anticipate your traffic and build this in to your online shopping strategy.
Consider the Cloud
Talk to your hosting provider about what scenarios you may face over the holiday shopping season to help find the cloud solution that’s right for you. That may mean bursting in to the public cloud to manage massive traffic spikes or utilizing a private cloud to increase existing server utilization.
Over-Prepare and Build in Redundancies to Protect Your Revenue Stream
Address data continuity and disaster recovery in your plans. Determine your tolerance for downtime and then chose what best suits your needs: geographically dispersed; hot standby; warm standby; or backup remote location. Look for a hosting provider with multiple data centers and the ability to back up to other locations.
Provide Shopping Guides
Create shopping and buying guides to make it easy for shoppers to make decisions when they’re not purchasing for themselves. This is your opportunity to show opinion and expertise, giving customers a reason to buy from you instead of the manufacturer or another retailer.
If you’re not already leveraging social media to help drive traffic to your website now is the time. Spend the next three months establishing a presence and voice on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Choose one to start with and add on as you become more comfortable using the various platforms. If you’ve already developed a solid social media following consider trying something new, like Pinterest.
For more tips on maximizing your eCommerce performance this upcoming holiday season, join PEER 1 Hosting at Shop.org’s Annual Summit, taking place on September 7, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Each fall, Shop.org produces the Summit as an educational and networking event for the entire digital retail community. See you there!