Throughout 2020, the pandemic caused a huge increase in how much was bought and sold online. All predictions for eCommerce growth were exceeded and advanced by several years in just a few months.
2020 saw a massive 41.7% boost in online sales over 2019, according to eMarketer. For the first time ever, online accounted for over 30% of retail sales in the UK – with overall eCommerce sales set to hit £114.33bn. That’s a 34.7% increase on 2019’s figure of £104.92bn.
While eCommerce may not experience another year like 2020 for some time, we will never go back to 2019 levels. Consumers have adapted to the convenience of online retail.
Every enterprise eCommerce business is now under pressure to grow along with the rest of the industry. To increase revenues, retailers must focus on metrics like marketing ROI, lifetime customer value, average order value, and conversion rate. A small change to one of these numbers can have a big knock-on effect on that all-important revenue figure.
Creating a strategy for growth without compromise
Huge events like Black Friday add even more pressure to be bigger and better than previous years. Marketing departments are tasked with driving as much traffic to the site as possible at these times.
This creates a challenge for IT departments who must ensure the site can handle this amount of traffic, which in some cases is several times higher than a typical business day. Without the right strategy, such traffic can slow down or even crash the website, causing significant harm to key metrics.
Slow page load times are linked to:
- Lower SEO rankings
- Higher bounce rates and fewer interactions between pages
- Reduced conversion rates
Even a small degradation in page load times, app responsiveness or availability during busy periods can have a significant impact on revenues further down the line. It is crucial this does not happen on a marquee date like Black Friday.
Making your site watertight for big sale events
By now there is a standard playbook most enterprise eCommerce businesses use to prepare their website in the lead up to events such as Black Friday or the winter holiday sales season. Here are just a few strategic actions:
- Load test to see how much concurrent traffic the site can handle
- Provision additional infrastructure or prepare cloud-based autoscaling to handle more traffic
- Be ready to turn off non-essential site features that could break the site when busy
- A/B test landing and product pages to maximize conversion rates
The biggest brands have started adding a new strategy to their plan: protecting their customers’ buying experience with a virtual waiting room.
Protecting big sales with a virtual waiting room
Where an eCommerce site may normally reach a tipping point of concurrent visitors and start to slow down, encounter errors or crash entirely, those using a virtual waiting room will instead maintain an excellent level of service to those on the site.
Any excess visitors beyond the site’s known capacity are redirected to a virtual waiting room, and only let into the site once previous visitors have left and made space within the site’s available capacity, in a fair first-in, first-out order.
What is the customer experience like in a virtual queue?
A properly designed virtual queue benefits both the eCommerce business (in terms of IT and marketing), and their customers.
When placed into a queue, clear messaging sets the customer’s expectations for their wait time. The page will be clearly branded and could feature interactive elements to engage with the customer during their wait. They will be reassured that, after a short wait, they will be able to browse and complete their transaction without interruption.
As any enterprise eCommerce business will know, the feeling of scarcity creates hype and boosts conversion rates. Just as messages on product pages showing remaining stock levels or how many items have been bought in the last hour push people to “add to basket”, those who pass through the virtual waiting room are more likely to spend.
Is your eCommerce site ready for the next big event?
It’s important for online retailers to get the virtual waiting room right so they can deliver positive experiences for customers, while maximizing throughput and sales on their busiest days.
TrafficDefender works with some of the busiest sites in the world to protect their brands at such times. Our virtual waiting room is easy to implement with any website or application, and comes with a customizable, white-labelled queue page.
We even provide support during key events so our clients feel reassured and have confidence in the technology.
Talk to us today about your strategy or book a free virtual waiting room demo with our team.