How can retailers stay operational as online traffic spikes?

Whether it’s Black Friday or back-to-school, today’s ecommerce sites regularly experience dramatic spikes in traffic, followed by much quieter periods.

Added to this, retailers are faced with knowledgeable and demanding shoppers who will not waste time waiting for pages to load, or return to a site if they’ve experienced any down-time.

Online retailers need a flexible and scalable platform that can successfully manage those peaks and troughs – without paying over the odds.

Head of business development at cloud consultancy Steamhaus Amy Shapiro says: ‘‘Committing to lots of server resource that will only be utilised during peak times is not cost effective.

“It’s crucial that retailers choose a solution that enables you to keep the site performing at its best without overspending on the underlying environment.’’

Online retailers often find themselves going straight to a hosting provider but Shapiro says this runs risk of receiving a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.

The first step is to work out what’s required technically and strategically. A smaller retailer might prefer a fully managed solution while a larger operation may want help getting the most out of an Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.

‘‘Last year’s Black Friday highlighted the winners and losers, with a number of high-profile sites crashing due to the sudden surge in traffic,” says Shapiro.

“It was clear who had sat back and waited for something to go wrong, versus those that were ready to ramp up.

“It’s important that whatever environment you choose is automatically scalable, can handle any new developments or added features on the site, and works for the specific needs of the business.”