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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

eCommerce Guest Blog: Get Ready for the Internet’s Peak Season

21 October 2019 by UKFast

Peak Season eCommerce with Mark BlackhurstMark Blackhurst, Co-Founder of Digital Next, shares his behind-the-scenes tips and tricks as the eCommerce peak season creeps closer.

As any experienced sales or marketing professional knows all too well, eCommerce companies need to prepare meticulously for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Known as the internet’s peak season, major retail events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are looming.

Your SEO, GoogleAds and social marketing strategies should be planned months in advance of peak season events, ensuring you capture your audience’s attention and drive both traffic and revenue to your eCommerce site during this busy period. The run up to Christmas sees scores of internet users heading to their favourite online stores to bag some bargains; with that in mind, it’s key to make sure your website is ready.

So how can you make the most of this surge in customers and increase conversion rates? Some of the most common peak season practices include the following.

Accelerating the speed of your website

Try to make sure that your network provider can handle a surge of web traffic. If your bandwidth is limited, some customers may find that pages take too long to load or the site crashes. This could put them off spending with you, instead clicking off and visiting a competitor. To address this issue, make sure that your network providers guarantee ample bandwidth and excellent service.

Offer customers plenty of choice and fantastic deals

Margins are usually low during peak internet season as retailers tend to offer substantial discounts and low shipping costs. To stay competitive, therefore, you need to focus on acquiring new customers and retaining them, rather than making short term profit.

This means you should use events such as Black Friday to put together an amazing marketing campaign that will attract customers and ensure that they stay loyal. Indeed, follow-up discounts or offers are one way of doing this.

Through social media strategies, content marketing and paid search, you can entice customers by advertising your deals to new customers.

Learning from experience

If you took part in Black Friday last year, try using relevant analytics from this period to come up with an even better marketing strategy. Take a look at which campaigns and posts worked to drive leads and conversions, and which did not work so well. If one Facebook post or blog article drew large amounts of attention, for example, try basing your new post around its successes.

What about peak season cybersecurity?

Advertising great discounts, monitoring the customer journey and making sure your site is optimised to handle the surge in traffic are all central elements during this peak season. However, cybersecurity should also be up there on your priority list.

Many eCommerce sites often overlook the importance of strengthening protections against malware during this busy period, despite the fact that hackers tend to use this time as an opportunity to attack unsuspecting retailers.

Why are e-tailers so vulnerable during peak season?

During events such as Black Friday, retailers simply cannot afford website breakdowns. Indeed, with so many potential conversions to be made, hackers know that infecting an eCommerce business with ransomware during the peak retail period will make them vulnerable to huge financial losses.

Orchestrated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are also frequently used by cybercriminals. These attacks involve bombarding eCommerce sites with so much traffic that they are overwhelmed and end up crashing. As well as the obvious financial implications, this can be hugely damaging to a business’s reputation.

How can cyber-attacks be prevented?

Fortunately, protecting your business from cyber-attacks during peak season is relatively straightforward if you know how. Some simple protections include:

  1. Patching your systems: Many malware attackers target known vulnerabilities that can be addressed using a patch. Look at your applications, operating system and network hardware and make sure that they are all protected with the latest updates and patches. Consider investing in secure hosting solutions that will protect your data at all costs.
  2. Update your anti-virus software: This goes without saying, really, but it is important to keep your anti-virus protection up to date.
  3. Educate employees: Anyone with the power to edit your website or with access to your systems must be educated on the basics of cybersecurity. This could mean, for example, warning about the dangers of phishing emails.

With so many things to think about before Black Friday hits, where can you head for more helpful hints and tips?

We recommend catching up with our joint panel of retail specialists for access to top industry advice on maximising sales this winter peak season, as well as the importance of keeping your site secure.

Missed our free Peak Season Cybersecurity webinar?