Can your website handle the New Year sales frenzy?

As Christmas, one of the biggest spending seasons of the year, has just passed, eBay and the Australian Retailers Association unsurprisingly predicted that shoppers would purchase most of their gifts online this year. Now that online shopping has become the norm, and with websites regularly reporting millions of unique browsers and customers online at any given time, all business owners, including SMEs, must be equipped to handle the online needs and shopping behaviors of their customer base.

Being customers and shoppers ourselves, we are always looking for ways to get time back in our day and these days, we have endless options. If a website is down or if a webpage takes too long to load, there’s nothing that can stop the potential shopper looking for the same product elsewhere.

With the silly spending season over, and businesses preparing for the “mayhem” of the sales, here are a couple of online shopping strategies to consider to ensure you are giving the best search experience for your customer, but equally, making sure your website can handle the web traffic for future busy periods.

  1. Speed up your site

Web Hosting is where your website code and information is stored. It is space on a server located in a data centre, which is connected to every other datacentre across the worldwide network. Each time you request information from a website (e.g. pricing, images, location ) the web server gets a request and then sends specific information to the browser from which you requested it, be that Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

This said, not all web hosts are the same, which ultimately means that some websites will serve customers faster than others. With online shoppers demanding immediate results more than ever, if your website doesn’t match their wait time, then you’ll most likely lose them to a different, and faster competitor.

Check the time that it takes for your pages to load especially at peak times and compare this to the websites of your competitors. Don’t forget, the more customers simultaneously accessing a page, the longer it will take to load.

There are some great website software programs out there that you can use. Ensure also that you have considered an efficient website layout and strong user experience. Pair this with great hosting and you will be able to efficiently meet all customer demand.

  1. Prevent security breaches

A security breach at any time is not ideal, but a hacked website means lost sales. Google may also “blacklist” your website by removing it from the search engine affecting site traffic, reputation and search ranking, and what’s more frightening, the average cost per attack on Australian businesses sits at over $275,000 as a result of stolen or lost customer information, website vandalisation or further infection of your customers’ computers.

There are of course precautions you can take to ensure that your website is protected against hackers.

Firstly, when creating and updating your website, ensure that your devices and internet service is secure and that your computer is protected from viruses. Look into password management software to help you store and access strong passwords. Change these every 90 days or so.

Your online reputation can also be secured with external live monitoring and protection. A daily vulnerability scan will identify malware and holes on your site to keep it safe. Overall, awareness and diligence is key when it comes to online shopping.

Gavin Gibson, Chief Operating Officer, Crazy Domains

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