Holiday sales events are right around the corner and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be ready for anything. This year ecommerce sales have blown projections out of the water, and even in an unstable economic climate, the holiday shopping season is anyone’s guess.
Prepare your clients’ sites now, be ready for that wave of traffic, and if it never comes, at least you won’t be explaining why they missed out on the biggest quarter of the year because their site couldn’t handle the traffic. 🤷♀️
Here’s a list to start running through.
Ask Them If They Have Any Sales or High-Traffic Events Planned
The main concern for developers outside of user experience and site functionality during the holidays is site performance. In order to set up the site for success though, you need to know what your clients are planning.
Get a detailed list of their promotions, including which products they’re targeting, which pages they’re sending traffic, dates, discount offers and codes – absolutely everything.
But above all else, communicate to them that preparing ahead of time will allow you to allocate the hosting resources they need to avoid server crashes and a slow site. Their conversions are on the line, after all.
Check Host Bandwidth Limitations and Prepare Your Clients
Holiday traffic spikes can be unpredictable to say the least, and sometimes a service restriction buried in your host’s SLA can be what throws an unexpected wrench in your client’s plans.
Remember – there’s no such thing as unlimited bandwidth. Read the fine print in your hosting agreement and press support until you get a real answer, so you can determine exactly what happens when a big wave of traffic hits your clients’ sites.
Run Performance Tests NOW
Weeks before those sales events kick off, start running performance tests across the site to determine how it holds up under dramatic increases in traffic. Are there issues with slow checkouts? Are you getting 502 errors?
Read this article to learn more about how to run performance tests on your WooCommerce store.
Get Enterprise Clients Set Up With Performance Solutions
If you’re running ecommerce sites for ecommerce clients who have high traffic volumes on a regular basis, you’ll need extra robust solutions to get them through the holidays without a hitch. Most enterprise hosting solutions require long-term contracts, but Nexcess offers a new feature, Advanced Auto Scaling, that allows you to toggle on more resources incrementally, with no long term agreements.
Learn More About Advanced Auto Scaling
Get EVERY Magento 1 Store On Safe Harbor
Magento 1 reached end of life over the summer, which means that any client still running their store on this platform is at massive risk of compromising their customers’ data and being out of PCI compliance.
If they’re holding off on a migration because the timing isn’t right or funds are tight, send them our way to get them set up on Safe Harbor by Nexcess. It’s a solution that will keep Magento 1 stores PCI compliant and secure until they figure something out.
Implement Optimization Plugins for WordPress Sites
If you don’t already have speed optimization plugins running on your clients’ WordPress sites, it’s time to implement them and start testing now. Start with image compression, CDNs, and lazy loading, and eliminate redundant plugins wherever you can.
WordPress plugins are famous for not getting along and breaking sites when you have the wrong ones turned on at the same time. That’s why the Nexcess WooCommerce and WordPress experts created Value Added Bundles – to save you money, and tons of time trying to optimize the right combination of plugins.
Set Up Coupons
Get a full list of coupons from your clients and start getting them imported into your client’s ecommerce application. Be mindful of any conflicts too – if a coupon can’t be combined with another offer, be sure to create a rule for that.
Optimize for Mobile Buyers
This. Is. EVERYTHING.
You’re probably a really good web developer, which means you probably already know that the majority of traffic these days is coming from someone on their phone. Tiny mobile devices are the new rulers of ecommerce user experience, and your sites HAVE to play nice with them.
Make sure your clients’ sites are extremely mobile friendly, and consider deploying a PWA (if nothing else, going into the new year) to keep the user experience fluid across browsers and devices.
Enable Save/Favorite Features
Giving shoppers a way to favorite items or add them to a wishlist is a great way to help your clients capture more revenue.
Walk Through Checkouts
Improving your clients’ checkouts can have a dramatic impact on their revenue, so be sure to walk through it as a user and take any notes on areas that may need improvement.
Cart optimization is a big topic on its own, but here are some tips on what to look into:
- Use a persistent cart that tracks items, even if the user leaves the site and comes back later
- Add credit card scanner to make entering payment details easier
- Offer a few ways to pay
- Keep it simple – try to limit it to a single page checkout
- Reduce form fields wherever possible
- Ask for payment details last
- Make shipping costs clear and simple early in the process
- Enable guest checkouts
Enable In-Cart Upselling
Smart product recommendations and upsells are a massive driver of revenue for ecommerce brands – give your clients the technology they need to capitalize on this area, too.
Ask About Abandoned Cart Emails
Abandoned cart recovery can make up for a lot of lost revenue. Talk to your clients to make sure they have retargeting set up for those carts, whether it’s ads or emails, and make sure their sites are set up to implement it ahead of Black Friday.
Audit Their Search Functionality
A good search function on an ecommerce sites can help place customers with products they’re trying to find – a bad one can send them somewhere else. Audit your clients’ search plugins, and if they don’t have one, be sure to get one setup ASAP.
Make Sure Brick and Mortar Clients Are Using a Cloud POS
If your clients are running physical stores and online stores, be sure to have them use a cloud POS that will integrate the data across both the website and in-store purchases.
Nexcess has just partnered with Oliver POS for our WooCommerce clients, and it’s a fantastic solution that not only integrates this data, but does it for free on an open source platform that you can create custom apps for.
Learn More About Oliver POS
Clarify Terms For Free Shipping With Your Clients and Set It Up
Studies show time and time again that free shipping, even with an elevated product cost, triggers more customers to buy. Be sure to clarify the threshold for free shipping, program it into the checkout, and communicate it clearly across the site.
You’ll also want to clarify the time it takes to deliver items clearly throughout the site and checkout.
Have a User-Friendly Return System Ready
Simple, free returns keep customers coming back. Have a returns policy and process clearly outlined on your site, and make it easily accessible to customers.
Have a Plan for the Unexpected
Site performance is going to be your biggest concern as a developer during the holiday shopping season. The weakest link is ALWAYS going to be the potential for a site to crash and keep you on the phone all night with hosting support working on a fix.
If you’re not working with a managed platform like Nexcess, you’re going to need to more closely monitor site performance and bandwidth.
But with Nexcess, you can clock out at five.
Thanks to our auto scaling, your client’s sites will automatically get the resources they need when traffic spikes, with the first 24 hours of auto scaling completely free of additional charges.
Learn more about Nexcess Managed WooCommerce and Magento hosting, and we’ll handle the migration for you.