Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2023 will crash your website – unless you follow these 5 tips
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for eCommerce businesses.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2023 (the full five-day period is known as the Cyber Five) are fast approaching.
And so, unfortunately, are a number of very costly website crashes…
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is an online (and offline) shopping event in which retailers apply massive discounts.
Technically, Black Friday will fall on the 24th of November in 2023, but many retailers will start the Black Friday deals even earlier.
What are Cyber Monday and the Cyber 5?
Same deal (pardon the pun) except Cyber Monday, which will fall on the 27th of November this year, focuses on online bargains and savings.
The Cyber 5 runs between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
Why do Black Friday and Cyber Monday cause website crashes and poor performance?
Quite simply, it’s the sheer amount of traffic.
In 2022, Black Friday online sales grew to 65.3 billion, with sales in the US alone growing by 12%.
As high streets, malls and bazaars give up the ghost, website transactions are fast outstripping cash passed from hand to hand.
The downside for online retailers is that without proper scaling and support in place, frenzied shoppers will be met with outages, downtime and poor performance – all at an eye-watering cost.
What’s the impact of website crashes and slowdowns over the Cyber Five?
With the average cost of downtime sitting around $5600 a minute, and that number rising to as high as $83,000 for many enterprises, we wouldn’t want to calculate what 5, 10 or even 15 minutes of downtime could mean at the busiest time of year.
In 2022, even sportswear giant Nike was caught lacking, with many users reporting the site down for the entirety of Black Friday.
So, when it comes to shoring up your site over the Cyber Five, our advice would be to Just Do It.
How to stop your website crashing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
CDN (content delivery network)
A CDN (content delivery network) is a network of servers placed across the globe.
CDNs serve static content from whichever node is closest to the user, cutting down on latency and taking the pressure off elsewhere.
CDNs are used by the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Facebook to improve user experience and guard against crashes in the event of a traffic surge.
They also lead to better performance and less slowdown.
While most online retailers will be using some form of cloud infrastructure, calling them truly scalable might be a bit of a stretch…
Serverless computing is an increasingly popular way of gaining extra scalability, but there are many other solution architecture decisions that can add up to a more robustly scalable site.
Other best practices include refactoring your application to microservices, implementing API-first design and containerisation.
If you’re on AWS, Lambda and Fargate are services worth checking out. For Azure, AKS is the go-to serverless option. And Google Cloud users can have a gander at GKE.
We’re big fans of stress testing here at Just After Midnight, as it’s one of the best ways to mitigate nasty surprises.
A stress test means simulating traffic to your website until it either fails or until the performance drops below an acceptable level.
This is important not only so you can test your site against predicted conditions, but so you can see how deals with failure. This means better disaster recovery planning and less downtime overall.
Host/support service level agreement (SLA)
An SLA details things like annual downtime allowed for by hosting providers or the minutes to response and resolution from your support team.
A good provider will be able to deliver a speedy response and recovery – which is a must-have for high-traffic, high-revenue conditions like the Cyber 5.
It might be worth having a chat with your provider to see if you can improve your stats over busy periods. Take a look at our support SLAs for a truly superlative example.
24/7 full-stack support
A full-stack support provider – like yours truly – can cover your entire stack, from the eCommerce application layer to the infra and any third-party integrations.
Over the years, we’ve kept pace with innovations like composable commerce, Jamstack and cloud-native eCommerce, so we’re in a better position than most to keep the lights on over Black Friday and the Cyber Five.
Find out more about how our pioneering full-stack support can prevent website crashes in time for the big event.
Brands hit hard by website crashes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The major UK retailer and department store was overwhelmed by demand during Black Friday 2018, displaying the message ‘Sorry about the wait, please try again soon.’
Allegedly, they missed a few technical tests; shoppers took to social media to vent their disappointment.
Shoppers on global fashion merchandiser J. Crew’s website were left fuming by poor performance completely shutting down sales.
Virtual baskets emptied themselves and checkouts simply refused transactions.
Business Insider estimates these errors cost J. Crew $775,000 in sales during a five-hour period on Black Friday.
This issue carried on into Cyber Monday, with J. Crew reaching a wince-inducing 84.75% availability.
Saks Fifth Avenue
In 2019, Saks Fifth Avenue’s site issues were so bad on Cyber Monday that they extended their deals to Tuesday.
One way to recoup potential losses – but a clear 2nd to taking the required steps beforehand.
The aforementioned titans of sportswear fashion saw a calamitous Black Friday 2022, with users stuck at the payment page or having their carts emptied at the final hurdle.
While no official figures have been released, it’s safe to guess this outage will have cost the prettiest of pennies.
In 2021 alone – 58% of users experienced technical issues!
How we can help in 2023
As a cloud-native MSP specialising in 24/7 full-stack support – and with a focus on mission-critical apps – we really can say we’re the go-to partner when it comes to crunch-time events like the Cyber Five. Plus, our managed services for eCommerce are perfectly adapted to meet the demands of ever-evolving eCommerce architectures.
To find out how we can get you shipshape for November 24th – or for anything else– just get in touch.