Different times of the year present different challenges for retailers and e-commerce businesses. The lead-up to the holiday season is known for being busy and Black Friday, in particular, is a monumental day where shopping activity reaches a peak. With more businesses now offering Black Friday deals online for a few days or even a week leading up to Cyber Monday, the surge in traffic they experience at this time can be significant. 

While increased traffic can result in higher sales and revenue, it can also test the capabilities of your e-commerce website in ways that you might not have anticipated. Preparing for an influx of website visitors is essential for both user experience as well as your bottom line. Below we have explored why website traffic spikes during Black Friday, how you can prepare for increased online activity and the importance of having the right server to handle high traffic volume.

The Surge in Website Traffic on Black Friday

Traditionally Black Friday is the start of the Christmas shopping season and it’s synonymous with discounts. Almost all retailers have special promotions for Black Friday, offering customers huge discounts, and this results in a dramatic increase in online traffic as shoppers turn to e-commerce websites to search for the best deals. The difference between traffic on an average day and Black Friday or Cyber Monday can be astounding. 

Often, increased website activity usually starts a few days before any Black Friday offers are announced as customers start to compare product prices at different companies. This traffic can then continue for days, reducing again after Cyber Monday. Since this time brings so much traffic to an e-commerce website, slow load times or even a minute of downtime can result in a huge loss of revenue. Therefore, preparing your website accordingly is crucially important.

How to Prepare for Increased Traffic

As the owner of an e-commerce website, there are some things you can do to prepare for Black Friday and ensure your website is ready to handle the huge uplift in traffic. Taking the time to run some tests and make some changes to your website is integral to ensuring a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers. This, in turn, can increase the likelihood of higher conversion rates and sales revenue.

  • Load Testing

Before Black Friday, it’s undoubtedly beneficial to stress-test your website and simulate the conditions it’s likely to face. Load testing involves mimicking the anticipated number of website users, as well as user locations and the range of actions they will perform. This test will help identify any bottlenecks or vulnerabilities that need to be addressed before Black Friday, helping you to avoid problems when it matters most. 

  • Optimising Elements

Several different parts of your website can be optimised, from compressing the images to reducing the redirects. Working on some basic website optimisation can help to increase page load times and provide a better user experience. Optimising and speeding up your website can help to reduce bounce rates on Black Friday and keep customers happy. 

  • Browser Caching

Browser caching can improve the experience for repeat visitors to your website. When a user visits your website, certain elements can be stored in their browser’s cache. This means the next time they visit your website, the pages will load much quicker. Make sure you are making the most of caching this Black Friday, it can have a big impact on load times for customers who have previously browsed your e-commerce website. 

  • Queue Management

During peak times, your website might receive more traffic than it can handle, even after load testing and optimisation. Implementing a queue management system can prevent your website from crashing by placing extra users in a virtual queue, allowing them to access the website when resources become available. This creates a stress-free experience for visitors and queue pages can be customised to entice shoppers into purchasing. 

The Importance of the Right Server

When preparing for a surge in web traffic, you also need to think about your server. Whether you have a shared server or a dedicated server can have a big impact on your website’s ability to handle increased traffic. Your server can affect your website’s performance, the online shopping experience and ultimately, your sales.

  • Scalability is Essential 

Regardless of which type of server you choose, scalability is hugely important. To handle more visitors, your server will require additional resources and you need to ensure your hosting solution can accommodate this. A hosting plan that offers easy scalability will allow you to adjust resources based on your specific needs during peak periods like Black Friday. You can scale down when traffic is low to save costs and quickly scale up to meet new demands.

  • Upgrade to a Dedicated Server

With a shared server, multiple websites are hosted on a single server, sharing its resources. This is often a more affordable option, but it has several disadvantages and risks, particularly during high traffic periods. Other websites on the same server are likely to experience spikes in traffic during Black Friday, further decreasing your website’s performance. 

When you opt for a dedicated server instead, all the server resources are allocated to your website. This ensures high performance and when you‘re expecting a considerable increase in traffic, a dedicated server provides the stability and control you need.

  • Consider Cloud Hosting Solutions

Cloud hosting offers a highly flexible and scalable server environment. Unlike traditional hosting, where you are limited to the resources of a single server, cloud hosting pulls resources from multiple servers. This offers near-unlimited scalability and ensures that your website can handle even unpredicted spikes in traffic. With cloud hosting you can scale up and scale down as needed, making it a cost-effective solution for handling Black Friday traffic.

  • Monitoring and Support is Invaluable 

Having the right hosting services can be beneficial on Black Friday and managed server hosting offers a robust solution for high traffic websites. With managed hosting, you can have peace of mind that your website is operating as it should be. Round-the-clock monitoring and support will enable quick identification and resolution of any issues. This results in a more reliable and efficient website that delivers a superior user experience, even in demanding conditions.

Finding the Best Hosting for High Traffic Websites 

All in all, a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday can set your retail business up for a successful holiday season. Preparing for the increase in website traffic is incredibly important and taking into consideration everything mentioned above can help to ensure you’re ready for whatever Black Friday may bring for your e-commerce website. 

If you’re considering moving to a new hosting provider with the capabilities to support high traffic websites, be sure to contact us at catalyst2. We offer a vast range of server hosting solutions and we have lots of experience working with large websites that have lots of visitors. You can turn to us in confidence knowing that we prioritise website performance and security, and we will do all we can to keep your website up and running smoothly. 

You can find out more about our promise to our customers on our website and if you have any questions about choosing the best hosting for high traffic websites, feel free to get in touch with our team. We will happily help you navigate the different options available.