With the holiday season now accounting for a large percentage of a retailer’s yearly revenues, it’s now more important than ever to ensure your online shop is fast and available for 100% of the season.
While traffic spikes are expected throughout sales events such as Black Friday and other Holiday Season sales events, the amount of traffic can be difficult to predict, and therefore appropriately scale infrastructure in advance.
Large spikes in traffic often lead to websites and applications slowing down or failing completely. Leaving customers unsatisfied and often searching for your competitors.
TrafficDefender (previously Netacea) customers see on average between 10x and 40x times higher traffic on Black Friday compared to other sales days. Every retailers’ systems have a finite number of customers they can handle and are subject to third parties’ limitations, known and unknown bottlenecks. Even those able to use auto-scaling elastic resources often find they are unable to react quick enough to deal with sharp and sudden spikes.
So, what are online retailers doing to ensure uptime and availability during their most intensive traffic periods?
A Virtual Waiting Room (VWR) is a layer designed specifically to protect website infrastructure from being overloaded by spikes in traffic.
Online queues are configured with the VWR to immediately kick in when a set number of visitor connections are made to the website, mobile backend or API. Any additional visitors that would typically take down the site are presented with a customisable landing page and put in a first-in-first-out queue which allows access as soon as space becomes available.
Using DNS enables an easy and rapid implementation as it does not require any code changes to the website.
With a VWR in place, websites are fully protected from any large or surprise spikes in traffic, services remain available to customers, those in a queue are kept informed of what is happening and every customer will receive the best possible experience once onto the website.
In a previous year, AO.com embarked on a Black Friday campaign to maximise sales revenues prior to Christmas. The marketing investments they made performed exceptionally well – too well.
The surge in website visitors caused by the promotional campaign pushed their IT systems and infrastructure to near breaking point. Although the AO.com maintained operability during the sale without any degradation of load speed, the experience highlighted a vulnerability that their team understood needed to be addressed.
The next year, Group IT Director, Adam Warne, and Head of Software Development, Carl Phillips, commissioned a Virtual Waiting Room solution to be deployed in preparation for that year’s peak event.
For AO.com, Black Friday and Cyber Monday was an unprecedented success, generating revenues above and beyond previous sales events. The eCommerce platform stayed open for the duration of the weekend and customers enjoyed fast load speeds and positive user experiences. Carl comments:
“It made absolute sense to us to deploy the TrafficDefender Virtual Waiting Room to ensure we could continue to serve more customers simultaneously than we ever had, even if the event turned out to be much bigger than we expected.”