We’re dreaming of a cloudy Christmas

Posted in In The Industry on by .

It’s something we Rackers know already but now we can actually prove it! Christmas is getting ever more connected and, thanks to a study we conducted among 4,000 people across both the UK and US, we know how to spread a little more cloud-powered cheer this year.

According to our specially commissioned study, the vast majority of consumers will buy at least one gift online, with just over half doing the bulk of their Christmas shopping online. But of those consumers, more than half had difficulties last year. The biggest complaints were slow-loading websites or complicated check-out procedures, and the impatient 21st century online shopper doesn’t tend to stick around to see if the site is going to work. A third went off to another site that worked better and a big chunk abandoned their purchase entirely. We can’t have that happening again this year, so we’re staging a cloud-powered Christmas intervention.

First, some facts about festive seasonal internet use from our study:

• 86% will buy at least one Christmas present online
• 51% will do the majority of their festive shopping on the internet
• 52% will shop from home in the evening
• 55% experienced frustrations with websites last year
• 34% took their custom elsewhere
• 44% gave up trying entirely

Our study also found that tablets and smartphones are big business this year. Not only will almost a fifth of people be doing their Christmas shopping on a tablet (up massively from last year), but a third of respondents were planning to give one as a gift and nearly the same number had them on their wish lists. These presents are definitely going to be played with on Christmas day. In (more) fact(s):

• 65% of people will go online on Christmas Day and…
• 62% will do so on Boxing day (the rest are perhaps at the sales)

So, what are the important takeaways here? Measures to keep your ecommerce website running smoothly, dealing with seasonal traffic with ease and preventing potential customers from leaving your ecommerce, game or news site are clearly essential. Spikes of activity in the evenings and on Christmas Day and Boxing Day are also more important than ever. Post-Christmas sales can drive huge traffic, too.

John Engates, the Rackspace CTO said: “Our study suggests that this may be the most connected Christmas ever. This means that all businesses with an online presence – not just retailers – need to ensure they have the hosting infrastructure and support in place to deal with inevitable traffic peaks over the entire festive season. Imagine the frustration if you are unable to shop at a certain website before Christmas, or use an app with your brand new tablet on Christmas Day.”

Here’s the handy Rackspace guide to preparing your systems for the festive season:

Check and test capacity: To avoid website slowdown, do a full audit of your web hosting environment to ensure enough network connections and server space available to handle a high influx of web traffic. ‘Load’ test websites by flooding them with a large volume and variety of requests, from simpler tasks like landing on the home page to key word searches, filling up baskets and checking-out. Christmas shoppers have no time for system lags!

Get support: Peak traffic demands over the Christmas shopping period and beyond are unlikely to be 9-5. You’ll need appropriate support to keep websites up and running whenever they are needed, day or night.

Use a hybrid cloud: If your tests show that additional web capacity is required during high-traffic times, go hybrid! The public cloud is the ideal hosting environment as it offers unmatched scalability on a pay-as-you-go basis but when combined with dedicated servers or private cloud in a hybrid cloud, it delivers optimal security, reliability and overall infrastructure performance.

Keep improving: Once Christmas is over and the leftover turkey is all gone, don’t rest on your laurels! Review the performance of your website, analyse any downtime or other performance issues, and use this to fix any issues. Our study found the main reason for shopping online is the convenience, so keeping it that way is crucial.

If you take all our advice on board, you’re sure to avoid all the problems that affected so many retailers and websites last year and have your cloudiest ever Christmas.

Merry holidays everyone!

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