Profitability is often heavily reliant on the holiday season for many eCommerce businesses. Customers eagerly consume more products during this time of year resulting in significant spikes in traffic for these eCommerce sites. However, along with this sharp increase in profitability comes a sharp increase in the number of resources required to keep your eCommerce platform stable so that your customers can enjoy their shopping season uninterrupted.
For many businesses, especially those without appropriately scalable architecture, this spike in activity can spell disaster. Fortunately, eCommerce businesses can prevent these holiday server spikes from impacting their customers by utilizing critical cloud services that are scalable and elastic enough to handle peak-traffic days while remaining within budget.
Understanding Cloud Elasticity
With cloud services eCommerce brands can utilize rapid resource allocation for heavy traffic spikes. In other words, the cloud is elastic: it can shrink and grow immediately to meet consumer demands. This ensures that customers can seamlessly browse and make purchases despite traffic surges. Those services allow developers can work with cloud service APIs to dynamically consume resources and scale quickly.
Brands that build and deploy their eCommerce platform on physical hardware may have growth-prohibiting upfront costs and issues regarding rapid implementation of resources. Cloud services such as AWS, Azure, and Google provide elasticity at a pay-per-use rate, avoiding unnecessary upfront costs for massive server infrastructure as well as the overhead costs of supporting that infrastructure.
Cloud Services and the Holidays
Over the past few years, some unfortunate brands didn’t utilize cloud scaling during the holidays and both their brand reputation and profitability suffered as a result.
Best Buy went down on Black Friday in 2014, which eventually caused them to upgrade to cloud services in order to avoid future system failures.
@IamBrettK We have been informed about this issue and are working to get it resolved, I would suggest also trying our mobile site.^Ang
— Best Buy Support (@BestBuySupport) November 29, 2014
J. Crew went down a few weeks ago during Black Friday, resulting in reported losses of $700,000
Happy Black Friday! Due to high demand, we’re experiencing some technical difficulties with our site right now. Apologies to anyone having a problem…we’re working to fix it ASAP!
— J.Crew (@jcrew) November 23, 2018
Additionally, Lululemon and Ulta shared similar fates this Black Friday due to a lack of cloud scaling support.
— Mike (@spanks004) November 22, 2018
Our website is experiencing high traffic at the moment. We apologize for the inconvenience and expect a fix to get it up and running soon.
— Ulta Beauty (@ultabeauty) November 23, 2018
Holiday traffic surges can come on very quickly and escalate dramatically, especially as flash promotions and social media reach amplify traffic bursts. They can take down small-to-medium sized stores just as fast as they can take down huge businesses. Here’s how the cloud can prevent your brand from facing these same server-side issues so that you can remain profitable the entire holiday and ensure a seamless online shopping experience for your customers:
Cloud services can handle a massive amount of traffic. With millions of servers, cloud services can support businesses through any “traffic jam” imaginable, though “pre-warming” and upgrades may be necessary to utilize those resources. This makes cloud servers especially powerful for growth-stage eCommerce brands, who can utilize an incredible amount of server resources that can scale to their growing traffic without the need to invest in physical hardware.
Elasticity is the key benefit of cloud services for eCommerce sites, providing quick access to additional resources to support peak-traffic. For example, AWS’s Elastic Load Balancer can scale instantly to both horizontal and vertical needs, meaning that your business receives the immediate critical support that it needs to continue servicing customers even during holidays or promotional deals.
Finally, the cloud is an extremely affordable way to scale and grow your eCommerce business. First, it doesn’t require server support, which is critical for those who run physical servers during high-traffic periods. Second, it allows you to avoid paying for more unused capacity by buying server equipment that only needs to be used during the holidays; cloud services let you pay for only what you use (we call this cost based architecture). Finally, the cloud ensures that your eCommerce store doesn’t crash by having access to a near-infinite supply of server resources. This allows your site to continue selling products without interruption, maintaining which means your ROI and satisfied customer base.
The Benefits of Cloud Services
Cloud services give you the support, price, scalability, and elasticity that you need during peak-traffic holiday seasons. Don’t lose out on sales due to server issues. Instead, utilize cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and/or Serverless architectures to keep your eCommerce platform up, costs down, and customers happy.
Learn how Terrace can help your eCommerce platform meet holiday shopping demands this season by calling (415) 848-7300, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or sending us a tweet!