Research Hub > Black Friday: Is Your Organization’s Infrastructure Ready?

October 29, 2021

Article
7 min

Black Friday: Is Your Organization’s Infrastructure Ready?

Is your infrastructure ready? Read on for an essential guide on how to best prepare your website for the e-commerce shopping spikes.

CDW Expert

What's Inside
  • Look at Your Website as a Customer

    As you scroll through your website, it is critical to look at it from a customer's perspective. Here are some questions to ask yourself while doing so.

  • Have a Flexible Bandwidth

    Ensure that your infrastructure has the proper, guaranteed bandwidth in place to support the influx of Black Friday website traffic.

  • Ramp Up Your Customer Service Team

    Making sure you have the right amount of customer service agents available and fully prepared is key for your customers to have an enjoyable Black Friday shopping experience.

  • Don’t Forget About Cybersecurity

    Don't let your infrastructure's cybersecurity fall by the wayside and become vulnerable. Black Friday is a crucial shopping period. Implement the best security measures ahead of time to protect your online business and customers.

Gone are the days of most customers navigating through the frenzied Black Friday shopping crowds in-person. Many people have turned to online shopping to grab the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Digital commerce has made holiday shopping much easier. However, what does the high demand of online shopping mean for your e-commerce websites? Simply put, it means that you need to prepare for the large amount of website traffic on during the online holiday shopping frenzy. You need a solid infrastructure, complete with support and security, to deliver your customers the shopping experience they want and avoid website downtime that could cut into your profits.

Read on for an essential guide on how to best prepare your websites for the Black Friday shopping spikes.

Look at Your Website as a Customer

When it comes to having a solid infrastructure in place for the upcoming Black Friday shopping day, the most critical place to start would be the reliability of your online shopping experience. Before Black Friday arrives, take a good look at your website — not as the business owner, but as the customer.

As you scroll through your website, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your site simple to navigate through? Having a site with easy navigation allows shoppers to search for the content they’re looking for more quickly and easily. Your site should give customers the ability to navigate between the pages efficiently and have a clear menu structure.
  • Is the content accessible? Content accessibility doesn't just mean that the copy is clear and easy to read. It can also refer to additional features that make your website navigable for those with disabilities. Accessible content on your website ensures that everyone has access to the same information, providing an equal user experience and allowing everyone to understand the content as it’s intended.
  • Are the website images clear? A great e-commerce site depends heavily on clear product images. Not only do clear images show up well on your website, but they communicate to the shopper your organization’s credibility. Poor images will result in a negative user experience.
  • Do some site pages take a while to load? In an age of instant gratification, the speed of a website is a very important factor for customer satisfaction. A slow website will frustrate anyone. Having a slow website or pages on the site that don’t quickly load will result in a loss of website traffic, and increase chances of website crashes and poor customer satisfaction.
  • Do your products have product descriptions? The products on your website should contain product descriptions that show a potential customer the product’s value. If done correctly, descriptions provide the benefits and features of the product, further encouraging the customer to make a purchase. Without them, the customer is more likely to move on, resulting in the loss of a sale.
  • Is your site mobile-friendly? Get to your website on a smaller screen, such as a smartphone or tablet. Does your website display properly? If not, your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices. People use their mobile devices everywhere, all the time, to search the internet or to make big ticket purchases. Making your website mobile-friendly comes with many benefits, such as your site ranking higher on search engine results — which helps your business build credibility and reach more customers faster.   

Have a Flexible Bandwidth

Many customers will be making their Black Friday purchases online because it will be easier for them to avoid dealing with the long lines at the store.

As an e-commerce business owner, you should expect an influx of website traffic during this key shopping day. Make sure that the network servers that host your website will be able to handle the large amount of bandwidth while still allowing for fast loading times.

To see how your systems can handle a large influx of online shoppers, it is critical to stress-test your infrastructure in advance. A stress-test is a type of hardware and software analysis that determines the strength of your current infrastructure. It also helps you discover your systems’ limits and if those systems will be able to handle and accommodate Black Friday traffic.

By stress-testing your infrastructure in advance, it gives you plenty of time to make any necessary adjustments to avoid costly website crashes or customers leaving your site en masse because of slow loading times. Many e-commerce business owners have also increasingly relied on cloud-based infrastructure solutions to manage site traffic peaks and preventing outages or crashes.

If you can ensure that your infrastructure has the guaranteed bandwidth to support Black Friday traffic, your customers will have an uninterrupted online shopping experience.

Ramp Up Your Customer Service Team

There’s no doubt or question that Black Friday shopping means big sales for your e-commerce business.  If a call center team is part of your operations, it’s very likely that they will be dealing with a larger amount of inquiries than usual in the days and weeks surrounding Black Friday.

In this case, it is critical to make sure that your call center is optimized to help ensure that calls aren’t dropped during this time. Dropped calls not only create pain points for the customer, but can result in purchase losses and customer retention. Remember, you may have a lot of customers during this holiday season, but you want them to be customers throughout the year too – efficient customer service is key for that.

Additionally, you need to make sure you have enough customer service agents on staff that are fully prepared and ready for the seasonal spike in shopping interest and activity. This staffing plan also pertains to making sure that your customer service staff is well-trained and educated on the complete ins and outs of each promotion or sale that you will be running so that they can efficiently answer any customer questions.

Not only should your customer service agents be fully prepared for and informed of all your Black Friday promotions, but they should also be prepared for the off-peak shopping hours to accommodate the heightened customer demand by working overnight shifts or late evenings.

Don’t Forget About Cybersecurity

Black Friday makes e-commerce businesses prime targets for cyberattacks or fraud. Cybercriminals are already aware that most of these businesses’ websites will get a large influx of shopper traffic and know that this is a crucial period for the financial welfare of business owners.

As business owners spend a lot of time and money preparing for this peak retail period, cybersecurity can be easily overlooked, leaving e-commerce businesses extremely vulnerable to threats. If your business were to be hit by a cyberattack during the busiest shopping period of the year, you would undoubtedly experience a huge financial loss.

To help avoid this, businesses need to take an integrated, multi-layered approach to security and protection. If you haven’t done so already, double-check and familiarize yourself with your entire network infrastructure processes, and look at your network's current security and protection measures. To run a business smoothly requires an actively managed, secure and robust network infrastructure to protect consumer data. Having an unreliable network can severely affect your Black Friday business operations and can expose your website to pesky cyberthreats such as spam, viruses and malware.

Additionally, the employees who handle your online business need to be cyber-smart, and knowledge is power. Arrange a brief 15-minute educational session with your employees on security — the sessions do not need to be time consuming. In the session, teach your employees how to quickly recognize the signs of a cyberattack, such as a phishing scam.

It is equally as important to educate your consumers too, especially if you plan to promote your Black Friday sales early to them. Notifying your customers of business security efforts being made to protect their information and how to recognize email phishing scams that can appear in their inbox will be a win-win for everyone’s safety and protection.

Summary

The holiday season may still be weeks away, but it is quickly approaching, and millions of shoppers are eager to participate. If you haven’t already, the time to start planning for it is now. Preparing for Black Friday means creating a strategy well in advance that will make this annual shopping day a successful one in the books for your online business.  Black Friday shopping will only get bigger and bigger every year, and it is imperative for you to use this guide to get your business ahead of the shopping curve. If you fail to do so, you risk getting left behind, suffering huge financial losses and a tarnished reputation as a result.