eCommerce and planning for the Christmas Rush

Oct 28, 2013


The fourth quarter of the year is the most important for ecommerce businesses. Industry experts suggest that an average of 35% of annual ecommerce revenue comes from this integral fourth quarter and even more amazingly 40% of all buyers start organising and even purchasing their Christmas shopping before 31st October. The more prepared you are then the better the chance you’ll have of reaping the rewards.

Ecommerce professionals need to plan for the spike in activity which occurs over the Christmas period to ensure their websites keep up to speed. Your budget may be small but you need to ensure you’re there and able to keep up with the big guys throughout the busiest period of the year.  Below we’re looking at two options for upgrading your systems to meet the rush.

Cloud Scaling

On-demand scaling through cloud, sometimes known as elastic, hosting is something that can revolutionise your business. It gives you a quick and easy way of up scaling or downscaling the hosting and bandwidth resources you require.

If you don’t currently have a flexible package then you should approach your hosting company and talk to them about your options. You need to ask them if you can switch in time for Christmas, what the costs may be and if there will be any significant down time. You may also want to check whether you can revert back to your original payment plan when things quieten down after the rush is over. You can scale up ahead of time to be ready for any rushes and ensure your system doesn’t crash and customer aren’t disappointed. You can also add in additional capacity once there is evidence of high traffic.

Your website needs to be able to cope with peaks and troughs in traffic or you simply won’t survive the season. It will be an expense but it’s worth it if you have a successful festive period.

Preparing for the Rush in Four Simple Steps

Below are four steps to check out whilst preparing for the Christmas period:

  1. Look at your average traffic on a daily basis and check out any historical data you have stored about the site’s effectiveness during the peak period. Tools such as Google Analytics allow you to check this without any charge.
  2. Ensure your hosting package has 24/7 support so you can guarantee your site remains live even at those moments you may think it’s not likely to be busy. There are more 2am shoppers than you think.
  3. Check your bandwidth. Research carried out by Shopzilla show that even a 1 second delay in page response time can result in a 7% drop in conversions and no one can afford that kind of loss.

Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of using professionals for every element of your business you’re not sure about. If you’re focusing on marketing and online strategy you should definitely consider outsourcing the day to day necessities such as order fulfilment and stock management to professionals – at least for the festive season to take off some of the strain.

Category: News

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