With cool autumn weather on the way, now is the time to start preparing your online store for the busy holiday season ahead. As brick-and-mortar stores start to bring out the Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, you should be sprucing up your digital space for increased traffic, too!
Whether your company’s most popular “season” occurs during the traditional holiday months or an industry-specific time period, Adobe recommends following the “Four Ps” when assessing the performance of your site:
- Predict the amount of traffic and the average order value of each sale.
- Put your resources to the test.
- Prepare your site with the best interests of consumers in mind.
- Practice good habits.
These four simple steps should be implemented at least a month before the busiest time of the year for your store. Taking the time to check each of these elements will ensure that your site will work smoothly, even during very high-traffic times, and meet the needs of every customer. Here’s how to get started:
1. Predict your traffic and order value.
Before making any changes to your site, it’s important to look over key metrics to see how much your store is likely to fluctuate in sales and visitors during the holiday season. Assess your store’s data history to find:
- The average traffic load over the past six months on a daily and weekly average.
- The traffic load during last year’s busiest season.
- The percentage of last year’s busiest season over last year’s 6-month average before the peak season.
- The growth rate in traffic from last year to this year.
After noting these metrics, continue to monitor your website’s average traffic and use last year’s growth rate to estimate how much traffic will increase this year during the peak season. If your store is still relatively new and you don’t have data from last year to use, you can review your usual peak sales hour and then multiplying this number by 3. This will ensure that heavy traffic won’t cause your site to crash or perform poorly during the holiday season.
2. Put your resources to the test.
Once you’ve discovered how much traffic your site is likely to get this season, it’s time to determine if your current resources will be capable of handling the influx of visitors. You can use the load and stress testing tools recommended by Adobe to expose any problematic areas of your store. If any issues or deficiencies come up, contact a Wagento developer to share your concerns and create a plan of action together.
3. Prepare your site.
Depending on your site’s current amount of traffic and the expected traffic during your peak season, you may want to simply increase the server capacity or database capacity. You can plan to do this for a temporary period of time before returning to the previous model. However, if your site already gets quite a lot of traffic, this can be a great time to upgrade your store to give your customers the best possible experience.
Another way to prepare your store is to use a content delivery network (CDN). This tool makes it easy to update your cache system and create a network of all your files, including HTML, JS, Style Sheets, and more. If you’re using Magento Commerce, you can utilize Fastly CDN. For further optimization, you should also take advantage of full page caching, which is explained here.
4. Practice good optimization strategies.
If you’ve been keeping your site up-to-date with the latest security fixes and upgrades, you should be in a good position to practice additional optimization strategies. These quick fixes will help your site perform faster, avoid downtime, and keep an eye on your overall performance:
- Optimize your images.
- Think “mobile first” to reach customers using any type of device.
- Upgrade to the latest ece-tools package.
- Check out Zero Downtime Deployments to ensure that nobody experiences any downtime during your peak season.
- Back up your online store with tools like Snapshot.
- Monitor site performance and metrics through the admin dashboard.
- Don’t hesitate to reach out to your Wagento developer.
As the holiday season draws closer, Adobe and Magento will continue to roll out more advice and best practices for online retailers during this unpredictable year. For additional insights, download the free eBook, Unwrapping the Gift of Giving 2020, and be on the lookout for more information in the coming weeks!