Can Your Online Store Handle Holiday Traffic?

0 min read

Marley Bathe

Whether you’re a big time online retailer, or a small mom and pop shop, your eCommerce site should provide an easy and user-friendly experience for all holiday shoppers. To align this timeless marketing and sale principle with your digital efforts, you must confirm that your server can handle an increase in traffic during the busy holiday season.

The Canadian’s Internet Business found that 72% of shoppers in Canada will go online for holiday gift ideas, spending about 8.6 hours looking for the perfect gift. Your server must accommodate this huge surge in site traffic. If it fails to manage this, your brand is risking the chance of going offline. Recently, over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Best Buy was plagued with system problems, which caused the retailer to take its website offline twice during the day. According to a Best Buy spokesman, “BestBuy.com experienced record levels of website traffic. This affected site performance and we temporarily took the site down in response.”

With the overwhelming amount of traffic, users were unable to access the Best Buy site for over an hour. Customers were left confused and upset and Best Buy ultimately lost numerous customers and revenue dollars. To ensure this doesn’t happen to your online site, you should implement a series of stress tests well before your expected high traffic months.

In agreement with Fierce RetailIT, David Jones from Dynatrace observed, “one recurring theme was companies being unprepared for the major spike in mobile traffic. Dynatrace saw this mobile tsunami coming and our recent survey predicted that this year more people would use mobile than ever before, but many sites still struggled to handle the load. Best Buy, for example. Many companies design and build their sites to be responsive so content delivered is adjusted for the end-user based on whether it is accessed via mobile or web. Sites that don’t test thoroughly in advance of peak times of demand will inevitably struggle to meet demands of all channels.”

These types of shut downs during peak holiday times could have long-term effects on a retailer’s image. According to KISSmetrics, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Some users may even turn to their social media channels to complain about their experience.

Fierce RetailIT notes that mobile took over traditional desktop shopping for the first time ever on American Thanksgiving Day. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 52.1% of all online traffic, with online sales up 14.3% from 2013. Sales via smartphones set a new record, according to Adobe’s Thanksgiving alert with $245 million in sales via mobile devices by early Black Friday morning.

Online retailers with an eCommerce platform should have an understanding that servicing the customer on mobile devices requires a different set of priorities than delivering content to a traditional desktop browser. By understanding the customer’s needs and delivering an accessible responsive website across all channels, retailers will win over the new-aged online holiday shopper.

When choosing an eCommerce platform provider, it's important that they understand design of the user interface and experience. It's crucial that they have experience benchmarking across leading brands, remaining constantly in tune with holiday shoppers’ ever-shifting online expectations as they shop across multiple interfaces. Also, that they include and deliver the entire design requirement, or will work with your design team to create a seamless customer experience between your store and online channels. Some services that should be on your checklist for optimal performance:

Front end and graphic design

Navigation and User Experience (UX)

Checkout process optimization


Web page performance optimization

Mobile and table UX design

With 59% of Canadians using their smartphone's to shop this holiday season, up a staggering 50% from last year, can your site can handle the surge of traffic?

For more on eCommerce solutions, contact us or see: Mobile Personalization for the Canadian Independent

Image credits: Certain Source, PC World