Put Endeca to the test and reduce your Black Friday stress

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Digital Commerce

May 8, 2015

Even the largest retail sites can be overwhelmed by Black Friday web traffic. It’s become something of a spectator sport among media to track which sites do well and which ones do not.

You know how critical the holiday shopping season is to your bottom line. According to the National Retail Federation, this period can account for as much as 40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales.

You also know it’s common for organic web traffic to double over the Black Friday weekend and, in some cases, spike by as much as 800 per cent. After all, if your marketing and merchandizing teams have done their jobs, the consumers will come.

And you can bet they’ll come earlier than ever before. It’s a fact consumers are starting their holiday spending frenzy around Thanksgiving as more retailers offer deals well in advance of Black Friday.

That’s why you can’t afford a shred of uncertainly as to how your e-commerce site will perform when the floodgates open on it in the days and weeks surrounding November 27, 2015.

Even the largest retail sites can be overwhelmed by Black Friday web traffic. It’s become something of a spectator sport among media to track which sites do well and which ones do not.

In some ways, size can work against you. As a large mid-market or enterprise-class Endeca user, you likely have a team with the expertise to handle the traffic volumes. But the devil is in the details.

The larger your business, the more complex your infrastructure to deliver the personalized shopping experiences customers demand. There are simply more ways that things can go wrong at the worst time.

But Black Friday traffic pains are predictable and avoidable. You just need to be proactive. The burden of responsibility typically falls on the shoulders of the IT department. But with all the effort by your marketing and merchandizing teams to prepare for Black Friday, with all that they have on the line, everyone in your organization with a stake in Black Friday must work together in a coordinated fashion to ensure you don’t hit any potholes.

Far-reaching impact

While Endeca is designed to handle the excess traffic loads typical of the holiday shopping season, its performance when it counts most will depend on how it has been set up within your commerce application stack, and how it is supported and provisioned.

We recommend you stress test and fine-tune your platform months before Black Friday with the help of a third-party Endeca expert. This objective perspective can bring to bear the insight of having worked on many other Endeca installations, break through silos in your organization and shatter assumptions that can cost you.

While the worst-case scenario is an outright outage of your site, even slow load times and sluggish browsing alone can have a significant and negative impact on your business. According to KISSmetrics, 40 percent of web users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. It also found that a one-second delay, or three seconds of waiting, decreases user satisfaction by about 16 percent.

Seconds cost you money. If your search and browsing experience is frustrating, consumers will go elsewhere. And why wouldn’t they? On Black Friday, they are spoiled for choice.

At RealDecoy, we had one client, an Endeca user, with an e-commerce site that repeatedly crashed for 30 to 60 minutes at a time over three days of the holiday shopping season. It turned out that the source of the problem was a change in the system that had been made by one of its team and not reported to us. For the following year, this client worked with us closely to stress- and load-test their Endeca system well in advance of Black Friday. This time, the holiday shopping season went off without a hitch.

You must also consider all your Endeca-driven retail channels. When your main site goes down, it risks taking with it any other customer touchpoint that relies on Endeca as its primary data source. Your mobile e-commerce app is at the greatest risk.

Performance issues or outright failures during the crucial holiday season aren’t only about lost sales. They can have far-reaching consequences for your brand image among consumers. Your company might even have trouble attracting and retaining topnotch e-commerce talent.

Final thoughts

Don’t just take our word for it. In its report on the 2014 holiday shopping season, Black Friday – The Sale that Stole Christmas, research firm Forrester advises retailers to load test their e-commerce platforms “beyond your wildest estimates.”

The burden doesn’t rest only on the shoulders of the IT department. As a marketing or merchandizing executive with so much on the line, it’s in your best interests to push for that third-party Endeca expert to ensure your platform is up to snuff. Not only will you be ready for all that Black Friday can throw at you, it will help you prepare to scale your platform as your business grows.

Black Friday may seem far off, but now is the time to act. Don’t wait until traffic volumes are already on the rise through the fall. Talk to your IT team and contact us at 613.234.9330 if you’d like to discuss your specific needs with one of RealDecoy’s certified Endeca experts.

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