Black Friday Session #4: Maximize stability - maximize sales

Downtime is expensive and results in lost revenue and productivity, as well as recovery costs, and reputational costs. Did you know that cart abandonment on slow-leading sites increases by 75%?1 Downtime costs big players like Amazon about 170,000 Euros per minute.2 While losses for smaller companies are comparatively less, this can ultimately have a bigger impact as it affects customer loyalty and reputation to a greater extent.

Every year around Black Friday and the holiday season, people browse online shops to get the best deals. This increased traffic can be a double-edged sword for merchants. While it brings a desired increase in turnover, it can also test your webshop's limits and overall infrastructure. Lagging pages and outages mean dissatisfied customers who may never return. How can you avoid this with Black Friday on the horizon?

Learnings from last year

In 2020, customers and merchants alike faced a new and unprecedented situation. Lockdowns, working from home, and public health guidelines limiting in-store shopping caused more people to shop online than ever before. That year, Black Friday saw an increase in transactions of 35% compared to 2019. Peak hours were between 10 AM to 12 PM, slightly before 5 PM, and after 7 PM.3 Online shopping in particular skyrocketed, with an increase of 97% compared to average daily sales earlier in the month.4

But not all businesses were prepared for the extra demand. In the US for example, fifty big ecommerce brands tracked by web optimization company Yottaa experienced performance issues or downtime during Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Even mega-retailers like Apple, H&M, and Playstation, which should have had their digital infrastructures in place, encountered performance issues during the holiday peak days and missed out on some valuable revenue.5

On the Thursday of Thanksgiving in the US, clothing retailer Zara experienced several hours of downtime issues. A spokeswoman for Adidas said that even though they did not experience downtime, some customers faced delays at checkout due to a temporary disruption at their payment service provider.6 Closer to home, the UK electronics giant Currys PC World also went down for a while, which resulted in hordes of angry customers and a cascade of social media complaints.7 Let’s heed these warnings and face this year's sales season well prepared. 

Get ready for Black Friday 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is retreating, and demand for in-person engagement has re-emerged. However, we shouldn’t expect a shift back to physical shopping entirely. Instead, people are going for cross-channel mixed and moving flexibly from one to another, as we discussed in Session #1 of our series on omnichannel strategies.

In these days of high-speed networks and mobile solutions, customers have less patience than yesteryear. They have no tolerance for slow processes, error messages, or unforeseen complications at checkout. Without a seamless checkout experience, cart abandonment can impact your sales. A study based on 44 cases found that 70% of customers leave a site after adding an item to their cart primarily due to complicated checkouts and website errors.8 Conversely, satisfied customers who proceeded smoothly through checkout can become extremely loyal and return for multiple visits during the year. The study revealed that 73% said that an overall good customer experience influences their brand loyalty.9

Best practices to manage downtime issues

Fortunately, even small businesses can take measures to increase their website's ability to handle the increased traffic and demand during holiday shopping.

1. Create mobile-friendly payment pages
More and more customers are using their mobile devices to search and shop around for the best deals. So merchants must create payment pages optimized for smartphone usage, for example by using progressive web apps (PWAs). Ensure that the checkout experience is seamless across all devices, including different screen sizes, and enable customers to transition effortlessly from smartphone to laptop to a local store and back. Pages should also be localized and include relevant features such as one-click payments using tokenization. 

2. Make sure all plugins and features are up-to-date
Consistent API responses are an essential part of a smooth transaction process. And outdated plugins can very quickly impact a website’s functionality. Keep all plugins and your full integration updated to access the latest features and functionality and optimize the speed and performance of your checkout.

3. Offer the right mix of payment methods
Offering the right mix of payment methods, including local and cross-border payment options is vital and helps you attract a broader audience. This significantly increases conversion and creates a comfortable, familiar shopping experience for your customers. 

4. Plan ahead with testing
If too many customers visit your site simultaneously, you could be staring down the barrel of an outage. One way to prepare for this is to test your system thoroughly before the peak season. With cloud testing, you can simulate increased demand on your site and detect any weak spots. You can select different parameters and check the site’s performance on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

5. Have a support system in place
Since even best-laid plans can fail, it's vital to have the right infrastructure to sustain shopping spikes as well as dedicated customer service and tech support. Having problems with your system on the eve of Black Friday? At MultiSafepay, our dedicated account managers and in-house tech support are on hand to deal with any situation and get you up and running again as quickly as possible. Acting as an acquirer and processor for all major credit cards and relying on our in-house development and core infrastructure gives us complete control over payment flows, and helps us maximize security and optimize speed and performance.

Build a standout checkout for Black Friday

This Black Friday, avoid any last-minute panics, financial losses, and devastating downtime. With more than 20 years of experience in ecommerce and a variety of digital payment solutions and features, let MultiSafepay help you adapt to your customers' demands and stay ahead of the market. Stay tuned for Session #5 in our Black Friday series on building the perfect checkout.

Find out how we can help you avoid downtime issues?

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