Will Holiday Demand Make or Break Your E-Commerce Site?

As the weather turns and the leaves reveal their polychromatic wonder, I enter this time of year knowing that the holiday season is upon us.  Holidays means shopping and like any good technologist, I have transitioned to making most of my holiday purchases online.

As an online retailer (e-tailer), the holiday season is critical to the success of the business.  Estimates suggest that on average, over 23% of online sales are made during this time.  The stability and availability of the online platform these next couple months can make or break the business.  So, what do you do if your online store becomes too popular?

Imagine owning a chain of brick and mortar stores.  What if you could add stores to increase capacity within a matter of minutes when a flood of shoppers came looking to buy your products?  What if you could not?  When demand surpasses the ability to deliver, will the long lines and crowded atmosphere force shoppers to leave and go somewhere else to find what they want?

Do you have the next pet rock?

If your e-tail business has one of the hot items this holiday season, you can expect a surge of potential customers to find your online presence in an attempt to purchase the must-have-now gadget or toy.  While most physical retail businesses find this to be a good problem to have, on the Internet, one’s reaction to consumer demand depends greatly on the design and architecture of your online presence.

As customers clamor to get to your website, the number of connections and resource demands increase and this can cause the site to slow down, impacting the customer experience.  If the site becomes too overloaded, it may even fail, returning the dreaded 404 error back to the consumer.

Both of these scenarios are bad.  Of course, if the site has failed and returned an error, then there are no transactions occurring and your business is out of commission.  Also, it has been shown that the longer it takes a web page to load, the more likely customers are to abandon the site and go somewhere else.  According to our recent State of the Union Ecommerce report, 57% of clients will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Make sure you have pet rocks, not gravel

If you have inventory and if you are carrying the hottest item on the planet, it does not matter if your website cannot respond to your future customers.  Six months later, when the fad has died down, your inventory is no longer relevant to the buyers.

As an e-tailer, to guarantee that you have a robust ecommerce site that can support the potential demand in addition to the luck skill to have the current fad in your stock room, you need an agile and elastic online architecture.  This means having the technologies in place that will scale your resources and availability to meet the current demands place on your website.

ADC = On-demand

The concept of an application delivery controller (ADC) is designed to specifically provide this capability to your business.  The ADC will monitor and distribute the customers accessing your website across available servers and resources.  With the right management and orchestration system, the ADC can enable additional capacity on demand or even make new content available, such as a special page for purchasing the popular toy.

ADC services can be made available within your own datacenters, the cloud, or a combination of both.  Core ADC technologies are the foundation for ensuring that access to your website is not a factor in your ability to fulfill customer needs.  Having a successful online business is more than having a great product and great customer service.  It is essential to create an online presence that can adjust to changing customer and business demands – especially during the critical holiday retail season.

Frank Yue

Frank Yue is Director of Solution Marketing, Application Delivery for Radware. In this role, he is responsible for evangelizing Radware technologies and products before they come to market. He also writes blogs, produces white papers, and speaks at conferences and events related to application networking technologies. Mr. Yue has over 20 years of experience building large-scale networks and working with high performance application technologies including deep packet inspection, network security, and application delivery. Prior to joining Radware, Mr. Yue was at F5 Networks, covering their global service provider messaging. He has a degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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