Prep Your e-Commerce Store for the Holiday Influx

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The holiday season can be one of the best times of year for business. It can also be the season for the biggest headaches.

While turning to an e-commerce platform expands a potential customer base, depending on a website for sales can be tricky. Websites are not always dependable and times of high traffic can be problematic. With the rise of online holiday shopping–especially toward the beginning of the Christmas season–the fear of a site crashing due to a spike in site visits is a valid concern.

It’s important to take precautions to keep your site in top shape during the peak season to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Consider these tactics when approaching your business’s peak season.

Utilize a cloud server
Depending on a dedicated server to host your website can be great — until a problem arises. Increases in traffic might cause your server to struggle with the load and result in your business going dark for a few hours. To avoid this problem, find a reliable private cloud host and set up shop there. Private cloud servers let you set up your infrastructure  within minutes, removing a previously laborious step from your end. In addition, a cloud server gives you the capability to change settings and resources on an as-needed basis. If you expect a surge of traffic on a particular day, you can increase your bandwidth or other desired settings to prepare. This option can be expensive, but doing research to find competitive prices is key to finding the best system for you.

Create high-traffic friendly versions of your site
Creating a visually appealing site is an important goal for pulling in potential customers. But those very things that make the site sleek and modern can be the ones that cause problems. If you use elements like Flash or several large graphics, consider disabling them just for a special high-traffic occasion. You can also consider utilizing a mobile edition of your site, which often takes less time to load and is easier to utilize and can be turned on for desktop and laptop use. If you provide PDFs for download, consider providing plain text documents instead or eliminate images from a PDF, cutting download time. The longer it taqkes for someone to load any page on your website, the less likely they are to stick around.

Avoid drastic changes and updates
Preparing your site for the holiday season might include a few changes to content, but avoid drastic overhauls or large updates close to peak seasons. Glitches often arise out of the smallest changes, increasing the likelihood of downtime. Updates can be scheduled and rolled out as you need to avoid drastic complications. In addition, do multiple trial runs of any special pages and promotions on the site to make sure they run effectively. Try them on multiple browsers, as well, since you never know which your customers will use.

Social media can save the day
In the event that your site does go down, you want to have as many lines of communication open as possible. While phone lines are naturally required for the majority of businesses, social media profiles are becoming even more imperative as customers continue to utilize social media as an outlet to express grievances and garner information. Social media profiles allow companies to broadcast important information, answers to frequently asked questions and even apologies. One of the major benefits of using social media to address customer needs is that many people have the same questions. Since most questions and comments are publicized on social media profiles like Twitter and Facebook, it saves customers time and gives them a sense of instant gratification and comfort.

Running an e-commerce site can be a heavy undertaking, but by staying ahead of the curve you can address problems before they occur and enjoy business success.

Author bio: Felicia Baratz is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media addict living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor to, Felicia discusses new, innovative technology and it’s relation to the business world and social media marketing.

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