4 ways to prepare your website for peak trading

31st May 2017 @ 08:12 | Aurora Commerce

Extreme peaks in traffic have become the norm in ecommerce. The rise of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other time-sensitive promotional events reflect a retail reality that is changing fast to meet consumer demand, whenever and wherever it arises.

And, thanks to the capability of their platforms, some ecommerce retailers are well placed to seize new opportunities; yet many others are failing to do so, as their websites are struggling under the pressure of heightened traffic. When this occurs, both revenues and customers are lost.

So, what can online retailers do to ensure their website is prepared for the next peak traffic event?

Optimise SEO

Could your website be more visible? Organic web searches generate a huge amount of sales around peak periods, so your SEO strategy needs to cover every base.

As well as suitable imagery, on-site product information should contain relevant keywords and search terms, in as many fields as possible, to maximise its presence on a search engine.

Consider, too, the demands of mobile shoppers; their approach to buying is sometimes different enough to warrant a separate strategy, so make sure you understand which keywords are driving traffic to each online channel.

Get up to speed

Speed is a deciding factor across the online purchasing process, and today’s shopper is easily frustrated. According to Amazon, for every one-second delay in load speed, conversion rates drop by 7%.

Free tools are available which let ecommerce retailers benchmark their load times against best-in-class operators such as Google. Slow performance can be caused by numerous factors, including unoptimised images, Flash, or embedded external media; whatever the reason, it should not be costing an ecommerce retailer sales when a traffic spike hits.

Optimise the browsing AND buying experience

According to research by online payment service provider Klarna, each online retailer loses an average of £37,000 a year from abandoned baskets – and a poor checkout experience is a key cause of abandonment.

When it comes to payments, online shoppers want a simple, integrated process; ideally one that is short, remembers log-in details, offers an easy password retrieval process, and presents a range of accessible credit options.

To maximise basket completion during peak traffic periods, ecommerce retailers should offer a seamless end-to-end journey, together with flexible payment options. It’s important that as much attention is paid to what happens when an online shopper decides to buy as to the browsing process.

Stress test

Peak traffic will quickly expose a website’s weaknesses, so it’s crucial to pre-empt the pressure and perform special stress tests that simulate the number of requests anticipated.

From orders, page views, bounce rates and basket size, to SKUs sold, conversion rate and response times, historical peaks should be compared with projected growth to identify a site’s tipping point in the event of a spike.

Surge protection offers queuing mechanisms which make an overload less likely; but things can go wrong regardless, so tests should encompass component failure scenarios such as a server crash.

Fit for purpose

These measures are just some ways in which ecommerce retailers can prepare to weather the (now frequent) traffic spikes. Ultimately, their platform should be robust, responsive and scalable enough to cope with such surges whenever they happen. And if it can’t, it’s time to upgrade.

Adapting legacy platforms that are struggling to cope with the demands of online retail will only lead to costs and problems multiplying. Instead, retailers seeking a long-term solution need to invest in a flexible, reliable ecommerce platform to cope with the huge volumes of traffic heading in their direction.

Find out how to prepare your website for peak traffic spikes by downloading our quick guide to peak ecommerce performance.

If you’re ready to get started, visit our features page to see how our market-leading ecommerce platform can enhance your peak trading capabilities.

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