Technology

How to avoid common Black Friday ecommerce malfunctions

Sorana Gheorghiade
Sorana Gheorghiade October 7, 2021
How to avoid common Black Friday ecommerce malfunctions

Nothing says consumerism like Black Friday. And in light of the most recent health crisis, nothing says mass online shopping like this holiday of sales and promotions, which reinforces the importance of having a reliable ecommerce operation. In 2019, the holiday saw 93.2 million buyers shopping online as compared to 83.3 million shopping on Cyber Monday. This resulted in a 14% surge in online shopping, which hit $7.4 billion.

Born in the 1960s as a response to the low demand in shopping between the American Thanksgiving and the Christian Christmas, Black Friday is widely known as the feast of online shopping. 

However,  for those who are on the other side of the shopping cart, things might differ. Black Fridays can be both a blessing and a curse for the average online business owner and its entire team, depending on how stable and robust its website is. No matter the size of the online operation, be it a marketplace or a simple ecommerce, cloud-based or on-premise with a black store or a huge warehouse, it’s a hustle and a hassle. 

Though you may not be able to predict exactly when a traffic surge will occur or how large it will be, it’s better to prepare rather than miss out on a major opportunity. Ecommerce will be the primary channel for many consumers this holiday season and, as the pandemic has taught us, if you can’t support a high-quality digital commerce experience, you’re going to miss opportunities on all fronts. 

Whether you are curious how to prepare for Black Friday 2021, want to make sure an ecommerce business is ready for the sales season or try to avoid a technical disaster during those high ticketing hours, read below the biggest failures that can occur during Black Friday and how to prevent them. The most common issues to occur during Black Friday are related to:

  • Product and Store Management
  • Scalability, flexibility and performance during high ticketing
  • Pricing, promotions and payment systems
  • Data privacy and security breaches.

Anticipation, prevention and all that jazz

An old eastern-european saying goes “the wise man builds his sled in the summer and his carriage in the winter”. Just like that, the more you anticipate an event, the more prepared you will be for whatever shall come your way. If one could start getting ready for Black Friday 2021 in December 2020, then we would advise that. Of course, each business owner and technical team will appreciate the balance between the remaining time and the resources at hand to see how much room for improvement there is and allocate the efforts wisely.

Prevention is another important keyword here. By observing metrics such as growth in traffic, sales, revenue, analyzing customer trends and understanding how much an ecommerce platform can scale, one should approximate the shape and size of the missing pieces to make this promotions parade happen smoothly. Whatever causes a small problem during normal running times might transform into a monster malfunction on that Friday night and cause the most terrifying nightmare of ecommerce: “Oops! This website is down for maintenance…”. To avoid this at all costs, try to fail-proof every single aspect of the online operation, test and then test again, just to make sure everything is on point. Once again, the sooner you can guarantee your structure is ready for whatever may come, the better.

Resource allocation is for winners

Accommodating an unprecedented amount of transactions poses a challenge for the average retailer. Preparing for and selling on Black Friday 2021 should run flawlessly as long as you do not underestimate the capacity needed for your systems to run the operation during that last Friday of November. Never say you have enough capacity to host a certain number of sessions at once or think that the store is flexible enough to accommodate all customers’ needs at once with no error. In order to prevent that, try something scalable like an inflatable balloon. 

Scalability in cloud computing is the ability to quickly and easily increase or decrease the size or power of an IT solution according to the demand. This is why you can sign up and use most cloud solutions in just a few steps, usually within seconds. It’s the reason why you can add resources like more space to your digital storage account just as quickly. 

Black Friday is the Olympic games of online shopping and you should train intensely for the run. Just, in this case, it’s not the length that causes a problem. It’s the size of the demand.

Don’t make assumptions. Ever. 

Retailers shouldn’t assume customers know what they want. Not everyone goes to an ecommerce store with a shopping list — and this can be an opportunity. Why not help them out with a list of recommended holiday deals?  A personalized shopping list with gift ideas will not only help buyers out, but it’s also a great piece of content you can use to generate more search and social traffic to your website. 

On the other hand, your customers may find it easier to make a decision when given fewer options. This is probably not the first website they navigate and it might not be the last either. Too complicated offers and too much information will result in a higher bounce rate, which eventually leads to fewer conversions and transactions. 

While doing everything on a computer is easier, the rise of mobile and tablet usage is dramatically changing consumer behavior: in 2020, $2.9 billion worth of Black Friday sales happened through mobile phones. Get all those interfaces and front ends fool-proofed and ready to retrieve the same or even better customer experience as the desktop ones. Whatever means a customer is using, make sure it is not detrimental to them because, as we already know, that will become detrimental to the business as well. 

Learn your lessons

An accurate adaptation for the world of online shopping would be: What doesn’t completely break down your online operation will teach you how to avoid the same problem next time. Nothing teaches you what to avoid like past experience and in this case, Black Friday 2020 should become a valuable point of reference. Positive and negative results are not just about Black Friday. The battle is about access to the most insightful data that will convert consumers well into the new year.

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