How much will another bad Black Friday cost your business?

08th May 2017 @ 16:14 | Aurora Commerce

How times have changed. After decades of well-trodden trading patterns, defined by the retailer as much as the consumer, we now operate in a world of extremes. There’s no longer any comfort to be found by clinging to the middle ground; as we head into an age dominated by online shopping and home delivery, it’s essential to adapt to how consumers are choosing to shop.

One of the shifts that retailers must respond to is the increasing number of peaks – led by the poster child for flash sales, Black Friday. Over the past few years this has become an increasingly global event, netting more than £1.3bn for UK retailers alone last year, according to IMRG data.

However, even though Black Friday is fast becoming a cornerstone of the UK Christmas trading calendar, each year, we still see some of the (seemingly) most capable ecommerce brands fold under the pressure of a sudden traffic spikes. While there is opportunity, there is clearly significant challenge in seizing it.

What makes websites most prone to failure on Black Friday?

It takes a powerful and robust ecommerce platform to weather such a surge; a website must be fast, and it must be reliable. Few things are likely to put off a shopper more than a page that takes forever to load, hence the masses of abandoned baskets left in Black Friday’s wake. Some transactions don’t even make it that far, with websites timing out from exertion.

The website must also be secure. Losing a sale due to sluggish load speeds hurts, but that damage is nothing compared to falling victim to fraud, which can mean severe repercussions for a brand’s finances and reputation. Retailers are especially vulnerable to attacks during peak sales periods, whether malicious or simply a result of the high influx of traffic.

Ensuring your site can handle peak trading pressure

Mercifully, there are safeguards against such eventualities, as we outline in our quick guide to enhancing your peak trading performance.

For example, after comparing your site’s load speeds against industry standards, the most obvious causes of slowdown can be easily identified and addressed. It may be due to unwieldy code, strain arising from embedded external media, compromises arising from third-party integrations, or myriad other drawbacks.

Responding to security flaws requires similarly close analysis, so that vulnerabilities can be identified; ideally long before they become a problem. Central to any upgrade in this regard should be the migration of security to the cloud, where platforms benefit from expert management, and updates can be deployed automatically, freeing up in-house IT teams to focus on performance.

Peak performance: taking a long-term view

While these steps are crucial, it’s important to recognise that there’s no quick fix, and that retailers hoping to continually adapt a tired existing platform might quickly see their costs overtake those who opt for a powerful new solution.

Future-proofing against the vagaries of public buying trends means investing in a flexible, reliable ecommerce platform, so it’s essential that a system is built to last.

After all, flash sales are here to stay. Since crossing the pond, Black Friday has fast established itself as a crucial ecommerce event; yet every year sees retailers missing out on revenues due to underperforming platforms.

Your website might be working well enough right now, but can you honestly say that it’s ready for the next Black Friday? If the answer is no, now is the time to act - so you can select, implement and test a new ecommerce platform ready for the big day this November.

Get your website ready for Black Friday by downloading our quick guide to peak ecommerce performance.

Or visit our features page to see how the Aurora Commerce platform can launch your business in international markets.

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