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Things You Need to Do NOW To Get Your eCommerce Site Ready for the Cyber 5 Holiday

It’s the most wonderful time of year… 

The holidays might still be a few months away, but now is the time for eCommerce brands to get ready for the Cyber 5, the start of the season that delivers the majority of their annual revenue. If you want to make holiday magic happen for both you and your customers, you must start planning immediately.   

Below is a fail-proof holiday prep list that brands can use to make sure their sites are holiday ready. A little early preparation will deliver higher conversions later. The earlier you check these items off your list, the better! (Printable version available here.)  

Is your eCommerce site ready for the holidays? Get a free performance snapshot today! 

Step-by-step guide to eCommerce site Cyber 5 holiday preparation

1. Compare your site’s performance to other leading brands at the eCommerce Speed Hub

The eCommerce Speed Hub is a new website containing the SIte Speed Standard benchmarking data. This is fresh data that has been collected from over 200 eCommerce retail brands and more than 20 million page views. The Site Speed Standard definitively proves that site speed is directly related to conversion rates. Run a benchmark on your site’s performance to make sure your brand is ready for holiday shoppers.

2. Confirm your holiday website staffing hours

During the Cyber 5, the five days from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, your eCommerce site should be staffed 24/7. Coordinating schedules around the holidays can be tricky, so this is something you should confirm with your team now. Have a backup plan in case of unplanned staff absences; this isn’t the time to run short staffed. Below is a list of functions that must be covered:

  • Marketing Operations – monitoring of campaigns and analytics
  • Technical Operations – monitoring of alerts and analytics
  • Troubleshooting and Problem Solving – front and back-end issues and QA
  • Critical Issue Manager – triage, vendor coordination, status updates, escalation
  • Specialized Roles – IT security, fraud/risk

3. Load test web pages to handle the heavy influx of traffic

Too much traffic can be a bad thing if your site isn’t ready for it. How much traffic can your site handle without causing performance issues? You can find out with a load test. Preschedule load testing and final performance optimizations in advance so you have time to fix any issues ahead of the rush.

4. Finalize adding any features and functionality to your site

Thinking of adding any 3rd parties or new features to your site to help improve shopper experience? Code lockdowns usually start on October 1st; November 1st at the absolute latest. This means any changes that you want to make to your eCommerce site need to be done well in advance (NOW).

You’ll be able to make sure these new additions are up and running smoothly, can handle the load test, and won’t be causing any other performance issues when the time comes.

We recommend following this procedure when adding new features to your site before Code Lockdown:

  • Test features across all devices and browsers
  • Review performance on each page category to compare before and after new features are added
  • Check traffic analytics and alert thresholds for current levels of 3xx’s, 4xx’s and 5xx’s
  • Cleanup and eliminate sources of false positive errors

5. Establish an “Emergency Plan” for site performance issues

Online retailers rely heavily on the holiday shopping season for a healthy bottom line, so it’s wise to be prepared for any problems that might crop up. Establishing an Emergency Plan for site performance issues will ensure that you’ll be ready if something does go wrong with your site. Often, performance issues can be related to the 3rd party technologies that you’re using on your site.

3rd party technologies are what make your eCommerce site enjoyable to shop for consumers. You need them. But with the average eCommerce site having 50+ 3rd parties, there’s 50+ chances one of them could cause an issue.

Since 3rd party technologies account for 75% of page-load time on eCommerce sites, make sure your plan clearly details how to handle violations related to those technologies.

Here are the steps we recommend for your Emergency Plan:
  • Create a spreadsheet with Support and Escalation Contacts for all 3rd parties
  • Let 3rd parties know your Point of Contacts
  • Request 3rd parties’ troubleshooting guides and status pages
  • Establish a maintenance page to inform shoppers of issues
  • Match your stage/test site to production

6. Get the full inventory and errors of your 3rd party technologies

As we mentioned in the Emergency Plan section, 3rd party technologies are necessary, but they can cause problems. Many brands don’t know for sure how many 3rd parties are on their site, or when individual 3rd parties are experiencing issues. Gaining access to a full inventory of not only which 3rd parties you have, but which ones are causing issues at specific times, will allow you to remediate violations as they occur, and before they cost you sales. Have your 3rd parties broken out by category and ranked by importance, identify which ones you can live without, and know to whom you should communicate issues.

Best practices for 3rd party ticket creation
  • Describe issue and reproduction steps (URL, device, browser, etc.)
  • Contact 3rd parties in question with reproduction steps and business impact
  • Install RAPID inSITE now for your full dashboard of 3rd parties and violations.

7. Optimize and stabilize your site performance

Your number one priority this holiday season (and always) should be to give your shoppers the best experience possible while on your site. Brands accomplish this by optimizing their sites for performance, with a focus on speed and consistency.

This means refining imagery size, caching rich content, and sequencing your 3rd parties to best load for an optimum shopper experience.

Site optimizations don’t just help with performance, they also help with load planning, among other elements. The more optimized your site is, the easier an influx of traffic will be on your infrastructure. Many online retailers are working on all their optimizations right now. If you haven’t started yet, push it to the top of your to-do list.

Here are some areas we recommend focusing on: 

Page category optimizations:

  • Home
  • Category
  • Product

New template optimizations:

  • Responsive image size tagging
  • Image slider optimizations (lazy loading)
  • JS error checks

Content push optimizations:

  • Image sizing
  • Adding multiple images

This holiday season could be your best — or worst — season yet. Our eCommerce Holiday Prep List will help you prepare. Don’t leave anything to chance – start checking items off the list TODAY!

Download the Printable Version of the eCommerce Site Cyber 5 Holiday Prep List