In 2015, Black Friday generated £1.1billion sales in the UK, and the following three days, the "Black Weekend" and Cyber Monday, doubled that figure. With a predicted £16,087 to be spent every second this Black Friday, maintaining high application uptime is vital.
Looking Back at 2015
Last year's Black Friday saw a 18% increase in online traffic YoY, whilst customers opting to shop in-store dropped by 8%. This was notable, as the now familiar frantic scenes of shoppers scrambling over TV sets were less frequent. It seems that most shoppers now see online shopping as the stress-free way to access the Black Friday deals.
2015 was also a good year for mobile eCommerce, as it overtook desktop for the first time, with a 57% share of all online purchases. This trend is set to continue as we round off 2016, with mobile applications becoming a key revenue generator for retailers this Black Friday.
To ensure you're prepared for the large volumes of traffic, we've highlighted some of our tips for high application uptime.
Although it is something to aim for, 100% uptime is almost unachievable with the normal financial and environmental constraints. Going into Black Friday with these high expectations will most likely end in disappointment. An acceptable uptime percentage really depends on the expectations and needs of your business. Generally, the industry gold standard is known as the five-9s (99.999% uptime), which equates to just 3.46 seconds of downtime over the entire weekend. The most assured way to get close to this standard, and even further, is to invest with an application hosting provider that guarantees 100% uptime.
In the lead-up to Black Friday, it is recommended that you identify areas where application functionality can be temporarily restricted should you need a boost in performance. Sacrificing a few nice-to-have features can help you meet the main objective of Black Friday – maximising sales revenue.
If the list of dispensable elements is substantial, prioritise which elements should go first if the application starts struggling. For example, a live chat feature is good for engagement, but not essential.
Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)
No matter how well you prepare, the unexpected can always happen. Most disasters result in a crashed application, which not only wastes potential revenue, but also marketing investment and customer satisfaction.
Planning for potential Black Friday setbacks is crucial, and there is no better plan for ensuring application availability than that of disaster recovery. A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is the ultimate insurance for an application during traffic spikes. DRPs cover a range of data recovery procedures, from defining recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs), to the implementation of technology that will speed up the rebuilding process. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can fully automate your recovery should things go wrong. In brief, DRaaS gives you peace of mind, meaning you can focus on driving revenue. You can find more information in our DRaaS guide.
Invest in a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Studies have shown that 70% of mobile users who abandon an application, do so because of slow load times. Therefore, the responsiveness of your application is essential for converting users into paying customers during Black Friday.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) caches static content on a separate server to mitigate latency issues. With a CDN in place to handle large volumes of traffic and ensure quick load times, your application can keep up with the pace of Black Friday to maximise the potential sales revenue generation.
Dedicated system monitoring
It is best to select a dedicated team of developers to monitor your application in the lead-up to, and during, Black Friday. They can then take responsibility for application performance, cloud capacity monitoring.
As your IP transit/bandwidth will increase, the team will need to consult your hosting provider to check that this will not go into excess, incur payments or have some kind of restrictions applied. Furthermore, they must check whether existing systems have adequate CPU, RAM and IO to cope with the increased demand, orders or enquiries. And if they do detect weaknesses or issues, they can work with your hosting provider to strengthen application performance and mitigate uptime threats.
With Black Friday on the horizon, it's time to get your application ready. Download our application uptime ebook to learn more about delivering high application availability around peak times.