Many traditional businesses operate budgets with fixed monthly payments for technical support and infrastructure for their online activities. The problem is, as any good ecommerce manager will tell you, that not all months are the same when it comes to online trade.
Events like Black Friday cause trading spikes that need to be coped with. The following graph illustrates how Black Friday has become increasingly significant as a contributing factor for sales.
Generally speaking, low-seasonal variation is good for ecommerce. Low variation means that sales are constant, continuous and predictable. Short-sharp bursts stress not only the systems and infrastructure but also all the staff. These bursts introduce inefficiency. For example, on a recent trip to Amazon in Fife, a normal working day there has 80% of the pick-pack lines idle. The extra pack lines are there to cope with trading spikes and are left unused for most of the year.
With events like Black Friday, resources have to be put in place to cope with the increased business. This means that businesses should increase their reserve resources for tasks such as hosting and maintenance. If systems are going to fail then they are much more likely to fail when they are maximally stressed. The last thing that an ecommerce business needs is to have a systems failure during one of the busiest sales periods.
If you are running an ecommerce business and expect abnormal trading conditions for black Friday then use this post as a last minute reminder to ensure the following are in place:
- Agreement that you have the operational flexibility to allocate, at very short notice, additional resources to cover unexpected maintenance and support tasks.
- Cover for out-of-hours overtime for your own staff so that system failures can be quickly responded to.
- Agreements for additional hosting capabilities as necessary.
These activities won’t stop problems from happening but at least the problems should be reduced, stress lessened and business success from Black Friday more likely.