Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are just around the corner. Is your WooCommerce site prepared? I hope so!
While time is running out, there are a number of things you can do to get ready. In this post, we’ll cover eight of the most important ones.
The potential of a Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal shouldn’t be underestimated. Indeed, many eCommerce sites report that a significant percentage of their annual revenue comes from sales during this brief period of time.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that nearly all businesses run a BFCM sale, which means that anyone who doesn’t have an offer is missing out.
Before we jump into the eight important things you can do, a final note: failing to prepare may cost you a serious amount of missed revenue. Amazon, for example, stands to lose $13.22 million per hour of downtime! While that’s an extreme example, it is a reminder that downtime should be avoided as much as possible during once-a-year sales events.
1. Make Sure Your Host Can Handle Heavy Traffic
Many web hosts are not designed to handle a huge influx of traffic, as their typical client doesn’t get much traffic in the first place. This is especially true for shared hosting plans and for the lower end of managed WordPress hosting plans at the average host.
Some hosts like Convesio, for example, do specialize in infrastructure that can scale to handle the “Shark Tank effect” of getting thousands of visitors at once. The name comes from the TV show Shark Tank (also known as Dragon’s Den), where entrepreneurs present their products to a group of investors, hoping for an investment. As the show is very popular, it’s not uncommon for the featured company’s website to get thousands of visitors in a matter of minutes. If the site isn’t prepared for it, this can take it offline very quickly.
While it may be too late to switch your host before Black Friday / Cyber Monday, it’s worth investigating your current host to see if they offer any scalability solutions or add-ons.
Unfortunately, these add-ons can often be expensive, but if you’ve had downtime issues in the past, it may still be worth it. Just be sure to properly investigate which hosts can scale for next year’s BFCM – and migrate your site in time.
2. Optimize Your Homepage and Checkout Process
Two of the most common causes of WooCommerce slowdown are:
- an overly complex homepage
- a checkout process that has too many steps.
If possible, minimize the amount of images and heavy elements on your homepage.
It’s also a good idea to simplify the checkout process itself. How much information do you need from customers? If something isn’t absolutely essential, consider cutting it, as every additional form field and page load will lower your conversion rate.
For example – do you really need the WooCommerce billing “company” field? And can you disable the “address 2” input if your customers tend to enter their full address into the first address field? The more WooCommerce checkout fields you remove, the higher your conversion rate.
3. Simplify Your Offer
Similarly, try to make the BFCM offer itself simpler. It should be immediately obvious what the deal is and how to get it.
Put the offer in a custom bar at the top of the page, not buried under paragraphs of text. Use simple words and assume that the visitor isn’t overly-familiar with what your business does.
It’s also good to use real numbers, like “Save up to $500” or “Get a $50 giftcard,” rather than abstract percentages, such as “Save 30%.”
Here are a few screenshots from Apple, Best Buy, and Walmart that you can use for inspiration:
4. Improve Site Speed and Loading Times
This is a general tip that’s especially relevant during high-traffic events like BFCM. To test your site’s speed, use a tool like Pingdom, GTMetrix, or Google Pagespeed Insights.
Most of these tools will offer direct suggestions, but in general, aim to reduce the number of large images, minimize HTTP requests, optimize code, and use a CDN.
Also look into improving the speed of your WooCommerce backend. Although the backend isn’t visible by customers, it will still affect your business operations – especially order processing.
5. Take Steps to Prevent Downtime
Preventing downtime is similar to improving site speed. In addition to what is mentioned above, try to remove as many unnecessary plugins as possible. If you don’t absolutely need it during BFCM, disable it. A caching plugin is also a must-have.
Additionally, be sure to prepare the site itself for the big event. That means disabling WordPress auto-updates and making sure no new plugins or snippets are added during the event.
You’ll also want to do a test purchase before sending out any marketing emails or social media posts.
Finally, get ready to fix your WooCommerce website in case of a Fatal Error – here’s a quick way to email the admin in case of an execution error, which may be super useful during a big promotion.
6. Add Trust Signals and Testimonials
Testimonials from real customers are especially important during fast paced sales like BFCM, as potential customers are trying to make a purchasing decision quickly.
If you have any positive testimonials from customers, display them prominently on the deal landing page. If you don’t, try emailing customers and asking for help – you’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to lend a hand.
As a bonus tip, try to include a photo of the person making the testimonial. It adds a much-needed human touch.
7. Apply Coupons Automatically
While coupons are a great marketing tool, they are largely a hassle during events like BFCM.
Why? Because they get in the way. Customers will assume that you have a deal applied automatically and may get confused when they have to add a coupon code like BLKFRIDAY to receive the deal.
Skip this and just apply all discounts automatically by bulk editing the WooCommerce products’ sale price or by implementing a simple PHP snippet that automatically applies the discount in the WooCommerce Cart. This will increase conversions, as it will decrease the amount of time required to fill out the WooCommerce checkout form.
8. Use a CDN
We briefly mentioned a CDN above, but it is worth repeating. A CDN is a must-have tool for scaling your website and should not be skipped.
How does a CDN work? In short, by storing cached copies of your site in different locations around the world.
When a visitor comes to your site, they’ll be presented with the version that is geographically closest to them. This is especially relevant if you have a customer base that is distributed around the world.
There are many CDNs companies available, with Cloudflare, Akamai, Fastly, and Amazon Cloudfront as the top ones. Many hosts will also include CDNs in their hosting packages – although you often have to pay extra for them.
As we said in the introduction, it’s preferable to prepare for BFCM months ahead of time – enough time to switch to a better host that can handle thousands of simultaneous users.
That said, if you implement the above 8 things, your site will be far more prepared to handle incoming traffic, especially if you haven’t made any preparations.