While every brand with a DTC channel dreams of a sudden surge in website traffic, too much of a good thing can do irreparable damage to even the most established online retailer. When websites are not adequately prepared for high-volume traffic and high-velocity checkouts, the sudden spike can actually lead to slow load speeds, a poor customer experience, high-profile website crashes and ultimately, a loss in revenue. Preparing a DTC channel for peak season is a must for growing revenue and preserving brand reputation.
Fortunately, a website that is bolstered for traffic surges delivers a great user experience and leads to higher conversion rates, no matter the day or the hour. Proper planning and the right technology can help negate the challenges of surging online traffic, so brands are left with all the positive outcomes — and none of the negatives.
In this guide, we will share four proven ways to prepare your DTC channel site for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, back-to-school season and other high-traffic sale events.
1. Evaluate Last Season
The best way to prepare your DTC channel for peak season is by first taking a look at data from past seasons. If you are getting ready for Black Friday, how did your website perform last Black Friday? If you are bolstering your website for a summer sale, how did the same sale work out last year?
Knowing what worked and what did not lets you address issues now – well in advance of peak season. Proper preparation reduces headaches and boosts sales.
2. Key Metrics to Analyse
There are many metrics and data points from previous events that you can evaluate. To make the most of your analysis, start with the following.
Your site’s bounce rate shows how many customers arrived on your site but left without navigating to another page. There are a number of reasons visitors bounce but one main reason for a high bounce rate during peak selling season is slow page load times. One study showed that an ecommerce website page that loaded in 1 second had a conversion rate 2.5 times higher than a site page that loaded in 5 seconds.
One of the main causes of slow page load times is an unstable infrastructure. High-volume, high-velocity sale seasons stress ecommerce websites. Increased traffic and transactions slow page load time and cause customers to bounce. To prepare for this year, make sure your ecommerce website is set up to handle the volume.
Search phrases and keywords
To get shoppers to your site and sale means those shoppers need to be able to find you. Knowing how last year’s customers found your site informs your SEO strategy for this year. You should evaluate the keywords and phrases shoppers used to arrive at your ecommerce website and develop a content strategy around the most relevant and effective keywords.
Unlike software optimisation that can yield nearly immediate results, SEO strategies can take months to take full effect. The nature of SEO optimisation means that you need to develop and implement a strategy now in order to reap full benefits by the holiday selling season.
Number and type of coupon codes used
During peak selling seasons like holidays, shoppers look for promotions. Coupons and special offers are effective ways to bring new customers to your site. Evaluating how many and which promotions worked well last year informs your strategy for this year’s peak selling season.
An ecommerce channel gives you and your marketing team the flexibility to add, remove and change promotions as needed. Fast, agile reaction is essential to increasing revenue which means you need a robust back-office promotion engine that makes it easier for your team to respond to data.
Payment acceptance rate
Few things are more frustrating for a customer than to have their payment denied. But you as the merchant need to have robust fraud protection that makes sure thieves get caught and legitimate customers are able to complete purchases. If your payment acceptance rate from the last peak selling season is low, now is the time to evaluate your options.
Fraud prevention and payment acceptance rate go hand-in-hand but it can take months to onboard new vendors. That timeline is shortened when you enlist a partner with an established, vetted network that is ready to go from day one.
3. Update Site Infrastructure
A solid website infrastructure is the most important element of a high-traffic ecommerce sale. Even if you run regular updates on your website, now is the time to dive deep into evaluating your infrastructure and make sure it is ready to handle increased volume.
Site upgrades will improve performance, reliability, outage recovery, security and more. By stress testing and optimising infrastructure now, you will have a faster, more secure website that is less likely to crash when your sale launches.
Ensure every element of your site infrastructure is up to snuff by reviewing the following:
- Server and hardware
- Image sizing
- Mobile performance
- Regression testing
- Multi-device testing
4. Shore Up Logistics Relationships
Supply chain logistics continue to be an ongoing challenge for brands with DTC channels, and shoring up those relationships has never been more important. Many ecommerce sellers are opting to bring support closer to home with nearshoring or reshoring, which can shorten the supply chain, improve oversight and minimise overall costs.
Brands are also investing more in both their forward and reverse logistics, making the returns process more streamlined for ecommerce customers. In any case, brands and retailers should focus on finding strong, reputable logistics providers who can integrate seamlessly with existing systems and are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy customers.
Here is a checklist to help streamline and improve every aspect of your ecommerce supply chain:
- Shipping and delivery. Is there a way to lower shipping costs and improve delivery speeds to meet customer expectations?
- Sourcing and manufacturing. How can you balance quality and pricing? Is it better for you to source abroad or onshore? Do your vendors meet ethical standards?
- Inventory management. Have you taken advantage of inventory automation systems? How can you improve customer service, returns and other features?
- Warehouse capacity: How can you save space and money in your warehouse? Do you store products seasonally? Can you extend storage racks vertically? Have you implemented a warehouse management system?
Prepare Your Website for High Traffic with ESW
Whether your DTC brand is getting ready for a summer sale, Black Friday or a mid-season flash sale, it is vital to prepare your website for high traffic. By having an updated site infrastructure, a solid marketing strategy, and staff support, you’ll avoid the pitfalls even some of the biggest brands face when a sudden traffic surge takes them by surprise.
Luckily, you do not have to prepare your DTC channel for peak season alone. ESW Fluency is an end-to-end technology that helps DTC brands scale without friction. Fluency comes equipped with a dedicated growth management team, conversion optimisation, localisation and omnichannel logistics features that help ecommerce retailers sell cross-border, right from their existing website. Contact ESW to learn how we help the best-loved brands solve the challenges of global ecommerce.