Christmas is usually a great and extremely busy time for retail and eCommerce sites. Most will see surges in traffic as visitors rush to buy presents and other festive essentials, but not all sites will be able to cope.
Without the right preparation, your website could crash under the strain of all those extra visitors. Even the big brands are caught unawares sometimes, one memorable example being Debenhams which experienced site overload in November 2017. If your site is slow or unavailable, you’ll effectively be turning customers away and losing sales at one of the most profitable times of year.
Start Christmas planning now
It’s not too late to get your website ready for Christmas shoppers, but you’ll need to act fast. Follow this quick checklist:
- Test your website for speed and responsiveness
Make sure to use different devices and browsers to make sure everything’s displaying and working properly.
- Check your hosting – can your website deal with extra traffic?
How would it cope with a thousand more visitors, or what about ten thousand? If one of your products ends up featured in national press or your winter sale event goes viral, you could get a huge number of new visitors overnight.
- Get website security up-to-date
During the 2017 Christmas shopping season, attempted cyber attacks across the world increased by an enormous 57.5%.This is why website security is so very crucial at this time of the year. If you want to take advantage of the Christmas rush, you need to reassure visitors that your website is secure. After all, they’ll be handing over card details and other sensitive information.
Make sure your SSL certificate is valid (and set to auto-renew if it expires any time soon) and check that all plugins are up-to-date. It may also be worth getting your site checked over by a web security expert, who can identify any potential vulnerabilities before it’s too late.
- Get updates out of the way
If there’s anything major that needs to be updated, either do it now (recommended) or leave it until the new year. It’s a smart idea to do it before Christmas, just in case you encounter a related issue, but make sure you leave time to clear up any issues or glitches before the shoppers arrive.
- Don’t make any other major layout changes – use landing pages instead
You might be tempted to reorganise your product and category pages before Christmas, to prioritise your best offers and help customers to navigate the site. It’s not recommended to do this now, especially if you have a lot of repeat customers. Online shoppers like consistency and if they can’t find products quickly, they’ll click away. A good workaround is to create special Christmas landing pages to showcase all your best gifts and offers in one place. You can also use pop-ups or promos.