The holiday season is here and it is time we prepared our sites to take on the holiday rush. The fourth quarter of the year presents great opportunities for sales growth in the e-commerce industry. 29.1% of companies reported that 20-50% of their annual sales happened in the fourth quarter. However, we must also think about the holiday season site traffic.
With this boost of sales, naturally there, is also a boost in site traffic. To make the most of all of this extra traffic, you need to make sure your website is able to withstand the extra visitors. Customers are more likely to bounce if they have to wait longer for your site to load. You can also expect to lose a lot of sales if your site went down during your rush hours of traffic.
We can take a look at how much site traffic increased for these 425 companies in a Webscale survey to get a better idea of what we might expect this holiday season. 35% of the respondents said that they experienced up to twice as much monthly traffic on average during the holiday season. About 7% of the respondents said that they experienced more than ten times the amount of traffic during this period than usual.
This post will cover all the things you need to do to make sure your site can handle that extra traffic.
1. Visit Last Season’s Insights
You don’t need to be stabbing around in the dark wondering how much site traffic will come to your website this holiday season. Take some time to check your insights from last year. Your analytics from last season will show how much traffic you had and how your users behaved. You can see where your store performed well and where it might need improvement.
Use these analytics to help predict how much traffic your site will have to hold, as well as, how much inventory you should stock up, how many orders to expect, how fast you can fulfill the orders. Read more on preparing your site for the holiday season here.
2. Run a Load Test
It would be a great idea to check how much traffic your site can currently handle before it starts to lag or worse, go down. If this were to happen during rush hour and holiday season, you could stand to miss out on a lot of conversions. A long load time is the number 1 reason for users bouncing off your page. Even an extra one to three seconds in load time could lead to a 32% higher bounce rate.
So test your load speed ahead of time and make sure your site is ready to handle your expected traffic.
To test the load speed you could set up a paid ad campaign which is optimized for click throughs to the site. Continuously check your page speed and your entire site for any glitches that come up. Keep monitoring your site speed and glitches as you optimize your site for higher volumes of traffic.
You can use a platform like Pingdom, GTmetrix, or Google PageSpeed Insights to test your pages speed.
3. Prepare your Site for the Extra Traffic
If your site didn’t perform well in the load test, or if you still want to make sure your site is in the best shape possible for a surge in visitors, you might want to make some edits to your store before the holiday rush.
Here are some reasons sites experience slowdowns when there are 100, 300, or 1000 simultaneous visitors:
- Shared Hosting which leads to lesser resources
- Bad servers with lack of scalability for peak traffic
- Overburdened APIs
Here are things you can do to ensure your site can handle a spike in traffic:
3-1. Upgrade your hosting setup
Since you are expecting high volumes of traffic you should make sure you are using a well configured setup. Even if you are a small business, it is risky to rely on a shared hosting plan during the rush. Consider opting for a cloud hosting which is scalable and more reliable during the holiday season.
3-2. Secure your website
Data breaches and hacks are the last thing you need to worry about during your busiest season as an e-commerce store owner. Here are a couple of ways to ensure your site’s security before the holiday rush truly sets it.
SSL or Secure Sockets Layer assures your visitors that their information is being encrypted on your site. Google has also made SSL certificates mandatory. If you still don’t have it, you can get one here.
We’ve said this before, but we really advise using a reliable security plugin for WordPress with a firewall. You will also want to have a login brute force protection.
3-3. Utilize a CDN
Using a global CDN will boost the speed of your store for your users around the world. A CDN will offload your servers and improve the user experience for your customers globally. If most of your customers are accessing your store from Australia, but your website is hosted in Germany, your users will not have a fast and smooth experience. This is especially true when your server experiences a spike in holiday traffic.
You can make sure your site is running smoothly for all of your customers during the holiday period by being prepared for them. Check your insights from last year to predict how many visitors you might get this year and assess where improvements could be made. Test the load of your website with a paid campaign before the holidays. Finally, prepare your site with security checks, and upgraded hosting plan, and a global CDN to offload your servers during the spike in traffic.
Ensuring a smooth experience for your users will lead to lower bounce rates, higher conversions and less time spent with customer service complaints.
If you have any further questions about how to make the most of this holiday season, you can leave a comment in the comment section below. I would love to interact with you all.
Until next time, happy holiday prep!