‘Avoid Black Friday disasters at your peril.’
As warnings go, it couldn’t be simpler. But, for Game, Quidco, Dell and more, the warning in 2016 should’ve been louder and clearer, with each company sharing the ignominy of collapsing under the weight of Black Friday website traffic. That’s why preparing for Black Friday should start in earnest.
Six months may seem like a long time, particularly in the ever-evolving world of technology. But for those running an ecommerce platform, ensuring optimum performance for Black Friday 2017 – not to mention Cyber Monday – is essential. Online shopping on this day in 2016 led to sales in excess of £1.23bn, so early adoption of a strategy that best accommodates the level of online activity is crucial.
Take control of performance: planning for Black Friday 2017
The thought of losing out on the added revenue the biggest shopping day of the year brings will cause alarm to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Understanding – and communicating – the requirements of planning for peak traffic demands access to empirical data that clearly shows where action needs to be taken. From identifying the capacity and performance levels to be anticipated on the day, to determining the exact behaviour of users when on the site, the challenges presented by Black Friday activity can be accommodated with ease.
So, what to do today?
With six months to go until Black Friday 2017, getting your plans in place for accommodating increased traffic and transactions should begin. But what precisely should you assess at this early stage? We take a look at three key considerations you should focus on in preparation for November.
- Prepare a comprehensive load test plan six to eight months before peak
Load testing is often more of an afterthought – an activity that can be delayed until nearer peak. However, a longer-term view of testing will save you time and money in the long run.
Load testing should never be considered a one-off process. Even when budget only allows for testing during a very specific pre-sales period, re-tests are essential to ensure that your changes have been successful. So it should be part of a carefully planned process that builds in time to effect change based on a cycle of outcomes and re-testing.
Leaving load testing until the last minute puts a squeeze on the time available to fix problems and allows no margin for re-testing to ensure the fix has worked or to evaluate its impact on performance. It’s often much more expensive to make changes at the last minute than if they’re implemented earlier.
So, include testing and contingency dates in your plan and build in enough time to implement, test, fix and re-test following changes well before code lockdown.
- Ensure planning is a cross-departmental process
Our most successful clients are those who involve multiple departments – such as business, marketing and technical teams – in the load-testing process.
Consensus on how the site needs to perform to meet expectations is essential, so you’ll need to pool each team’s unique perspective on what constitutes a successful outcome. Only by involving business, marketing and tech teams in planning will everyone be aware of deadlines, thereby avoiding any last-minute pressures for new features on your tech team.
- Define your desired testing targets based on realistic outcomes
As with any testing, it’s essential to define targets before you begin so you can evaluate performance against your KPIs in a targeted way. Without testing your site against realistic outcomes, you may believe your site is prepared for your peak traffic; in reality, it may not be able to handle traffic levels and real users performing activities across your site.
Defining a successful outcome doesn’t have to be overly complicated, it just needs to contain some specific performance-related goals. These outcomes may be quantitative or may be focused on enhancing user experience. Whatever your criteria, they should be firmly defined before load testing begins.
Without testing your site against realistic outcomes you may believe your site is prepared for your peak traffic but in reality it may not be able to handle traffic levels and real users performing activities across your site.
Start planning today
It should be noted that even those not planning Black Friday promotions can expect a spike in traffic. Eager shoppers the world over will be scouring the web for money saving opportunities, landing on any retail website they can in order to find the best deal. So, regardless of your plans for November 24, 2017, ensuring you’re fully prepared to cope and thrive is essential. And if it all feels a little overwhelming consider a fully managed load testing service to help take the strain out of Black Friday planning & preparation.
For more details on how to prepare your ecommerce platform to rise to the demands of Black Friday, we at thinkTribe are delighted to offer a FREE comprehensive guide identifying the key steps to take. Simply download the guide today and discover more about how your team can avoid those risks associated with peak period traffic.