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Avoid gridlock: How to get your site ready for eCommerce traffic

The biggest shopping day of the year has just gone by, and once again this year’s 11. 11 Singles’ Day sales have smashed 2014 records at US$14.3 billion! The Chinese eCommerce market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 25% over the next few years, from US$390 billion in 2014 to US$718 billion in 2017, according to management consulting firm AT Kearney.

This year, more than 40,000 global brands were set to take part in the Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza, but in a recent Advertising Age-Rackspace survey of marketers and agencies only 45.2% were confident in their ability to handle holiday peaks. Now with Black Friday, Christmas and other festivals or major pivotal days yet to come, are you and your site ready for peak season eCommerce traffic?

Testing, testing

Like with many things in life, preparation and planning are key. With holiday sales accounting for a high percentage of many companies’ annual revenues, it’s imperative that an e-retailer’s website runs flawlessly and is free of unnecessary downtime. A delay of just one second in page load time can translate into a 7% conversion loss, and as well as annoying your customers, slow load times affect how Google’s search algorithms rank your site. Unplanned outage incidents cost online retailers US$627,000 last year, and with more customers transitioning from offline to online and mobile environments, these incidents are only going to get more costly.

Get an expert to help you

Almost every retailer wants to get into eCommerce but few have the expertise to run seamless services across multi-platforms in the age of omni-channel retailing. Do you have enough server capacity to handle the deluge of holiday shoppers knocking on your virtual door? Many online retailers move to larger servers with more memory and CPUs to prepare in advance for Singles’ Day.

But what if your website goes 404 and your servers go down? By working with a managed cloud company, your business can tap the power of cloud computing without the challenge and expense of managing complex IT infrastructure and application platforms on its own. After all, managed cloud providers are expert in eCommerce and will help to architect your environment for optimal traffic.

And if things do go wrong, make sure you have chosen a partner that will be there and not just on the phone. They need to be there by having their engineers and their specialized expertise available, day or night. This helps to keep your business running smoothly and protects your brand – especially with the massive globalisation and cross-border commerce push this year.

Optimise for mobile

Is your site mobile-friendly? Around 46% percent of buyers now prefer using their mobile device to make purchases, but eCommerce sites haven’t caught up with consumers. Only around a third of small businesses have their websites optimised for mobile, so there is a lot of room for growth. If your company doesn’t jump on this trend, you are overlooking and pushing away a lot of customers and their money. Your site needs to be easy to navigate through any device that uses the Internet, while integrating sales channels is the next step in the evolution of retailing.  A great mobile design not only gives your customers a more enjoyable experience but it also effects how Google ranks your site.

Security matters

eCommerce sites that are not taking their customers’ online data protection seriously could have serious consequences to a company’s bottom line. If your customers don’t trust your site, or don’t trust that you will keep their data safe – they just simply won’t use it. Safeguarding data and preventing service interruption is vital. If you choose a company like Rackspace, which provides IT support from Firewall and backup to compliance assistance, you will be a long way toward a successful eCommerce holiday season.

The writer is Michael Johnson, marketing director – Asia Pacific at Rackspace

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