Strategy

How VTEX prepares for Black Friday, retail’s biggest day

Júlia Miozzo
Júlia Miozzo December 2, 2021
How VTEX prepares for Black Friday, retail’s biggest day

As the enterprise digital commerce platform, VTEX has a huge responsibility when it comes to ensuring reliability and security to all major retailers. This is true throughout the entire year, but especially important during Black Friday, which in 2021 happens on November 26. With more than 2,500 online stores in operation around 32 countries where we operate, our mission is to guarantee stability and to make sure that the peak of orders expected by companies will be processed smoothly.

While this is no easy task, we take the challenge very seriously and start our preparations for retail’s most important day of the year well in advance. In this article, we deep dive into our main actions for this significant day and its effects on the remainder of the year.

An always-on preparation for Black Friday

At VTEX, we believe that the same effort that is put into the preparations for Black Friday and the holiday season should be ongoing for the whole year. This is why our conversations around the topic start in early August, questioning ourselves where and how we can improve to make the next edition better. 

“I think our main differentiator is that we’ve always invested in reliability and security way before Black Friday. What we really look forward to is making sure we’ve mapped all potential risks and that our monitoring and alerts system is perfectly operating to warn our team in case something pops up.” — Paulo Monçôres, Director of Engineering at VTEX.

To get to that point, we always follow some precise action steps, on top of having capabilities that ensure great Black Friday results. We will go through the main ones below.

Loading tests

Black Friday sales are all about volume and the number of orders can be 30% bigger than in a usual week of the year. It is, indeed, a peak that can happen either during the actual Black Friday, the weekend that follows it or even on Cyber Monday, depending on the promotion strategy that brands and retailers follow. 

This is why an important measure is to run loading tests, also called stress tests, to check the servers’ capacity by estimating the growth in access and transaction volume. That way, we can anticipate how the commerce website will behave during the big retail event and make the needed adjustments in case it fails at some point. 

At VTEX, we run this test many times and months in advance, pushing our servers to the limit to identify potential bottlenecks and reduce any friction. By anticipating the worst-possible scenarios, we make sure your ecommerce channel can handle anything on the big day.

Risk analysis and prioritization

Gustavo Franco, Director of Engineering and Infrastructure at VTEX, explains how this measure works:

“The biggest challenge in preparing for Black Friday is the balance between introducing new features and platform stability to ensure that everything works fully when the demand for elastic increase of capacity comes. To achieve this, we perform a thorough risk analysis and prioritization, as well as load testing the system.

For example, engineers from the Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and development teams together with the product application teams establish global performance criteria, aiming to optimize VTEX’s response time as much as possible, taking into account the many possible scenarios analyzed.”
— Gustavo Franco, Director of Engineering and Infrastructure at VTEX

Incident management protocol

VTEX has an exclusive Incident Management Protocol for Black Friday. It works under the premise of monitoring our platform during the whole day and counting on our on-call teams, who’ll be ready to solve any incident. But it doesn’t stop there: 

“Our protocol is based on our own constant monitoring over the platform, direct contact with clients, exclusively dedicated on-call teams and primary and secondary communication channels so that we can immediately identify, mitigate and eliminate any type of incident.”
— Gustavo Franco, Director of Engineering and Infrastructure at VTEX

Prior to Black Friday, we review our alarms and monitoring systems and also our SLA, SLO and SLI to make sure they’re sharp and good for that special day after Thanksgiving.  

Teamwork and coordination

It all comes down to teamwork. Many different areas work together during the preparation and Black Friday event itself, such as: infrastructure, security, privacy, SRE, development and product applications. Also, coordination is key, since all of those measures are planned months ahead, such as the action plans that might be needed to put in practice during an eventual crisis.

Early and coordinated preparation translates to our customers’ businesses being bullet-proof when the time comes and easily adaptable to Black Friday ecommerce trends

A new learning every year

After all the preparation for the big day and the results that we see coming, it would be impossible not to gain new learnings. In the Black Friday Week of 2020, we’ve recorded an increase of approximately 85% in volume of access to online stores that use our platform. Now, some VTEX clients report an expected increase of up to 300% in the number of orders compared to their average daily sales.

Those numbers indicate that we did things well, but that we should aim even higher for the following editions. After all, it’s all about allowing customers to focus on boosting their revenue during Black Friday and trust VTEX to take care of the rest.

Keep reading: Related stories
Strategy

What is a marketplace: In and out models

The constant growth of ecommerce has resulted in the emergence of various online sales modalities. Perhaps the most…

Lalo Aguilar
Lalo Aguilar
Strategy

How ecommerce and marketplace go hand in hand

Marketplaces have risen as one of the most widely adopted trends in the ecommerce space, and for good…

Lalo Aguilar
Lalo Aguilar
Strategy

Ecommerce replatforming: Overcoming resistance to change

Companies, like people, can sometimes be reluctant to change. The proposition of oncoming uncertainty can be pretty unnerving…

Lalo Aguilar
Lalo Aguilar
Strategy

6 do’s and don’ts of ecommerce migration

Ecommerce platform migration is an exciting endeavor that allows brands to shed the old and embrace the new,…

Kristin Schepici
Kristin Schepici
Strategy

A guide to the many types of marketplaces

Marketplaces (also known as e-marketplaces or online / digital marketplaces) are an established business model in the commerce…

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop
Strategy

The fashion marketplaces winning the ecommerce game

Online marketplaces, characterized by multiple third-party sellers selling on a single touchpoint and taking care of order fulfillment…

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop
Strategy

Time-to-market: The trick up your digital transformation sleeve

It goes without saying that time-to-market (TTM) is incredibly significant for any digital transformation. The shorter it is,…

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop
Strategy

Challenges faced by online grocery and ways to overcome them

Situations such as arriving home tired and carrying shopping bags, leaving work late and finding the fridge empty…

Daniela Jurado
Daniela Jurado
Strategy

The fastest ecommerce site migrations

Time-to-market (or time-to-revenue, as we sometimes call it) is incredibly important for any digital transformation project or ecommerce…

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop
See More