November 5, 2015

Is Your eCommerce Site Ready for Cyber Monday?

Is your ecommerce site ready for cyber monday?

For online shoppers, Cyber Monday is one of the best days of the year. It takes the deals of Black Friday but removes the headaches of early doorbusters and mall stampedes. For most eCommerce sites, Cyber Monday is also a banner day, with huge sales and traffic. But Cyber Monday also brings a host of unique problems for eCommerce sites, and it’s critical that you take the time to get ahead of them.

In 2014, over $2 billion in sales were generated on Cyber Monday, making it a prime day for eCommerce sites to capitalize on (PFS web), and some industry experts are predicting an average growth of nearly 14% this year (Practical Ecommerce). With its extreme popularity, this day now warrants its own game plan to ensure your site is a well-oiled machine come the big day.

At this time of year, eCommerce companies are bringing out all of their big guns – running more PPC ads, sending out an influx of email promotions, and running sales – all tactics reliant on a safe, secure, and live site. These visitors are in a prime spending state, and it’s our responsibility to ensure we give them the perfect conditions to make purchasing decisions, without the concern of slow site speeds, unsecure payment data or even worse, hacking and downtime.

We have found that there are some critical elements to check in on for your Cyber Monday readiness and want to make sure you are thinking of everything as you prep for Monday, November 30. Here are our guidelines for success:

How Many Visitors Can Your Site Handle?

Hopefully you have a (good) relationship with your hosting provider, because Cyber Monday is typically the Super Bowl for eTailers, and the last thing you, or your hosting partner, want to see is the lights to go out at halftime. As an eTailer, the most critical piece to avoiding this is to ensure your systems is built to handle a significant number of concurrent user sessions without any hint of a performance decline.

We’d highly recommend having a discussion with them about your site’s hardware specs to ensure that your configuration is set up to handle the maximum traffic expectations without a hitch. Going into the conversation, keep in mind that honesty is paramount – you need to give your hosting partner as much detail as possible with regards to historical traffic, current traffic, expected traffic, and any campaigns you are running which might result in inordinate spikes on certain days. If they don’t know what to expect, it’s hard for them to give you the answer you need and want to hear.

You both need to be on the same page, so dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s together will go a long way in the end. Most reputable companies will have you covered, but ensuring that you are having these proactive conversations will keep you feeling at ease as you watch your site work to tackle that 14% average growth number.

If you can nail this proper planning and sharing, your shoppers will be in for a great Cyber Monday and eager to pull those wallets out of their pockets.

Get Your Site Hacker-Ready

With the boom of the holiday rush, also comes the doom of the holiday hacker. Unfortunately, there are individuals with the sole goal of a different type of ’Cyber’ Monday – a cyber hack. This particular threat to your Cyber Monday preparations needs to start a little sooner and will require more conversations with your hosting partner. It will be critical to ensure that all of your site extensions are updated, the proper firewalls are configured on your site and you have taken all measures to ensure you remain airtight come the big day.

In the event that you do experience a data breach, ensure that you and your hosting provider have a backup plan in place, particularly one that involves customer outreach so you can get ahead of things as quick as possible. Your customer will value your transparency, but also your immediate action and response (and you will avoid the Target PR nightmare from their hacking).

PCI Compliance = Confidence

Collecting credit card data online? If the answer is yes, listen up, because this is the quickest way to lose buyer confidence and incur fines or penalties from the payment card brands.

With the onslaught of hundreds to thousands to sometimes millions of transactions taking place in one calendar day, it’s critical that your eCommerce site keeps your customer’s payment data secure. While business size does have an impact on what your specific needs are to meet these PCI standards, it’s vital that you have a quick check-in with your hosting partner and your payment processing company to ensure everything is up to snuff. There are online resources you can engage with to run independent PCI testing for your site, but you should start with the two partners you entrust the most with your eCommerce site – hosting and payments.

For the most part, this is a fully behind-the-scenes initiative, with customers rarely inquiring about your level of PCI compliance, but should the buyer confidence question come up, you want to ensure that your organization has all bases covered, and can confidently advertise that your customer’s information is 100% secure and confidential as they prepare to complete their purchase.

By taking the time now to confirm that your site is PCI compliant, you can enter Cyber Monday with the confidence that your site is secure, safe, and primed for conversion.

Prepare for the Worst

While taking these steps can help to ensure that your site is Cyber Monday-ready, there is always the chance of something going awry. We always encourage our customers to take solace in knowing that we are running all of this same diagnostic testing well before they even ask us, but we also know that your relationship with your hosting provider and eCommerce partners is not always this way. In the event of any uncertainty, the best offense is a good defense, and hopefully this gives you more of a checklist to get started because you still have time.

If anything does go wrong, it’s critical that you stay calm, and follow your action plan in case your site goes down or you are hacked. Make sure to set guidelines for how to get the site up and running again, who is responsible for which duties, and any other necessary processes for a smooth fix. Put in the work now and you’ll be thanking yourself later! Know exactly who and when to contact them, and provide as much detail as you can.

While your partners are doing their job to get your site back up and running, use your social media channels to inform your customers, and give them the peace of mind that you are on top of it, and will be back at full-strength in no time, but that their best interests are at the front of your mind. Transparency will ultimately translate to buyer confidence and appreciation.

By now, hopefully, you understand what to do and how to do it to prepare your eCommerce site for Cyber Monday. You don’t want months of preparation and game planning for the Super Bowl to be for naught on game day. Follow these simple guidelines and we can help keep your site up and running through the whole day, saving you major headaches and your company critical dollars lost from downtime.

Having said this, if you feel at any moment that your partners do not have your back, we are here to help and provide guidance. At Edge, we help your site stay up, so you can sleep more. Contact us today!

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