• Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Scotland Connected

Hopping Across Scotland From Hub To Hub

For Better Black Friday Sales, Prep for Holiday Shoppers Now

holiday-shopping-1921658_1920

As Black Friday sales continue to rise year on year, it’s evident that more consumers are choosing to hunt for their bargains online and avoid the in-store rush.

This sudden seasonal increase in digital purchasing makes it crucial for online store owners to prepare early if they want to attract an influx of holiday shoppers. Black Friday can bring significant revenue to businesses, but to tap into this potential, businesses must ensure a smooth online shopping experience for their customers.

So, if you’re aiming for better sales this Black Friday, start your preparations now by focusing on the following five areas.

Scalability: Bring Everyone to the Table

 

The holidays are all about bringing people together, and as a site owner, you want to ensure every potential customer who lands on your site has a seamless experience from start to finish.

This can be harder to implement as more site visitors arrive, all at once, putting added strain on your server. For sites that aren’t set up to perform well at scale, this could translate into anything from slow-loading pages to all-out downtime.

To that end, it’s important to ensure your site has the needed resources to perform well at scale should you experience a spike in traffic, thus guaranteeing every one of your site visitors has a seat at your digital table.

To determine where you stand, you can take stock of how your site is performing now and make sure it’s ready for holiday visitors by testing it for high traffic.

Load testing

 

Load testing is something you can do to determine how many visitors your site is prepared to handle at once.

Proper load testing will help you assess important aspects of site performance like scaling capabilities, lifecycle hooks, security risks, automatic code deployment, health checks, and target tracking, among other factors.

It’s important to make sure you’re not load testing your live site—instead, use a separate development environment like Local. Then, you can perform the following types of load tests to make sure your site is ready for Black Friday (and beyond):

  • Stress testing: Also known as fatigue testing, this test reveals how the system behaves under highly intense loads. You can simulate “stress” for your site by using a third-party tool to send a set number of concurrent HTTP requests to a website and watch how it responds.
  • Spike testing: This type of stress test evaluates how the site performs when there’s a sudden increase in traffic, also known as a “spike.” This will show you how your site would respond if, for instance, a large percentage of your customers navigate to your site simultaneously after receiving a push notification or email about a seasonal sale.
  • Soak testing: This test is all about the endurance of your site. Sometimes called “longevity testing,” soak testing is similar to stress testing, but focuses more on how the system reacts to a high volume of traffic over an extended period of time.

Experts at BlazeMeter suggest that your site is considered “under load” when 80% of your server resources are being used and that you should test your site for at least 20% more than the amount of traffic you actually expect.

Searchability: Help Site Visitors Find What They Want

 

A good search experience is critical to the success of an eCommerce site, as it significantly affects user satisfaction and conversions.

Consider these key points:

  • 43% of eCommerce visitors head straight to the search bar.
  • Visitors who use the search function are more than twice as likely to become customers when they find what they’re looking for.
  • While WordPress offers basic search capabilities out of the box, enhancing your eCommerce site with optimised search solutions presents a competitive advantage.
  • WP Engine customers saw an increase of 18% in sales simply from improving the search experience with Instant Store Search, a custom implementation of ElasticPress that’s included in WP Engine’s WooCommerce hosting solution.

On the other hand, neglecting search can lead to underwhelming results, as customers expect Google-level search experiences across the web.

During peak seasons like Black Friday, your users will demand more comprehensive search functionality to find specific products, and tools like Instant Store Search can help them find what they need.

Powered by ElasticPress, this powerful search optimisation can be enabled with one click and provides relevant search results and autocomplete suggestions in real time as users type their queries. That means shoppers can quickly find what they’re looking for, add it to their cart, and proceed to checkout.

Instant Store Search is capable of searching large volumes of data quickly and provides scalable search operations for your site, making it especially beneficial during peak shopping seasons when you’re seeing an uptick in traffic.

Performance: Clean House and Get Ready for Guests

 

Cleaning up your site in anticipation of holiday traffic can encompass a lot of different areas, but the first thing site visitors will notice is how well your site performs.

It’s important to optimise your eCommerce site for optimal performance at every stage of the buyer’s journey—from fast-loading pages that capture browsing shoppers to seamless cart functionality (regardless of concurrent traffic), all the way through to a swift and secure checkout process.

Prune back plugins and unnecessary code

 

Some plugins can significantly slow down your site’s performance. By disabling or removing unnecessary plugins, you can improve the site’s speed and performance. Also, getting rid of unused features and trimming down your code can lead to a more streamlined site with faster loading times.

Disable cart fragments

 

Many eCommerce sites use cart fragments, which is a bit of code that updates a user’s cart without refreshing the page. But when that script is present on static posts, pages, custom post types, or feed pages that contain no eCommerce functionality, it can decrease cacheability and slow down your site. By disabling cart fragments and choosing a different tool, like WP Engine Live Cart, you get the functionality of dynamic carts without bogging down site performance.

Focus on cache

 

Implementing a suitable caching system, like WP Engine’s EverCache for WooCommerce, can help you maintain impressive site speed. It knows when to ignore the cookies used by WooCommerce, optimises cache delivery for static pages, and automatically bypasses cache when it has the potential to break functionality.

On-page optimisation

 

From your product descriptions, content, titles, reviews, pricing, links, and all other on-page aspects, every element should be double-checked and optimised to include the keywords your customers may be searching. Check for broken links, outdated pricing, and poor-quality images, and abandonment. You can also compress large media files to keep your site performance high without sacrificing image quality.

A correctly generated site map also ensures easy readability for search engines as they crawl your site for relevancy, and regular backups will ensure any changes made to your site can be reversed if you notice unintended consequences.

Outreach: Try a New Tradition

 

The holiday season is often a make-or-break period for many businesses. It’s a time when consumer spending increases drastically, and many businesses rely on this heightened traffic to meet their annual sales goals.

To maximise profits during this time, many companies use the holiday season as a period to try out new sales strategies. Whether it’s implementing a Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) offer, lowering prices by a certain percentage, or initiating holiday sales early due to anticipated shipping delays, testing these strategies in the weeks leading up to Black Friday can give you invaluable insights into your customers’ behaviour and preferences.

Because shoppers are already in the buying mindset during this period, they are more receptive to sales and discounts. By trying out different sales strategies to see what resonates with your customers before Black Friday, you’re ready to optimise your offerings and maximise your profits when holiday shopping hits.

By NWC