Tips to prepare your webshop for Holiday Season 2020 (technically)

Published 28 October 2020 17:03 (6-minute read)

The time of the year has come, the holiday season. It is a few months where a lot of traffic comes to your site, but how do you convert visitors into customers? In this post, I'll give you some technical opportunities to prepare your webshop for the Black Friday sale.

First, we take a look at the things you can improve about your webshop. These tips are going about the technical side of your website, but here are some quick tips for the global user experience of your shop:

  1. Offer good deals;
  2. Optimize your products, quality images, content that helps the user;
  3. Promote the discounted products, show how much discount the visitor gets;
  4. Offer relevant up-sells;
  5. Remarketing of your products, link your webshop with Google Merchant Center and Facebook Business. Make a campaign for remarketing and maybe offer them an additional discount;
  6. Make a newsletter, let users subscribe to your mailing list and, begin with promoting your Black Friday sales begin October. Give them exclusive discounts so your subscribes feels special;
  7. Make backups of your shop, in case there is an error you need to restore it as soon as possible;

Hope this short list helps you, so let's dive into the technical aspects of your webshop you can optimize.

User experience

Loading time

Coming soon..

Layout shift

Coming soon..

Monitor real user experience

It's important to measure the user experience, this is the only way you can see which aspects of your site are loading slow. You can see the exact resource(s) that are blocking other actions.

Maybe when your users are having trouble you cannot do anything about it at that moment, but in the future, you know which items you need to improve. User experience monitoring is not only something that is for now, but you can look back into it after the holiday season and prepare for next year.

Take a look at What is Real User Monitoring and the Tools for Real User Monitoring.

Real User Monitoring by That's Why
Real User Monitoring Sponsor

Do you want to measure the user experience of real users? That's Why is the new way of collecting RUM data in a privacy friendly way.

Resource-efficient usages

CDN

A lot of resources from the website are coming from static assets, like the styling (CSS), images, and javascript. These items need to be loaded as fast as possible. When you live in a small country, like The Netherlands, you won't have a lot of latency in the requests because (most) of your visitors' life close to your webshops server.

When you go internationally you may want to use a CDN (content delivery network), this is a service that has multiple servers around the world. All your (static) content is being served from a server closest to the user so it doesn't have to travel all around the world before it can be displayed.

Optimize images

All the images your website serves to the visitors need to load as fast as possible. Therefore you need to load them most efficiently:

  • Use correct sizes, when a mobile visitor needs to load an image that is not optimized in dimension it has to load unnecessary data. Therefore you need to (automatically) resize the images to the needed format.
  • Efficient use of image formats, there are multiple ways of image delivery. Png, jpg, gif, webp, avif. I recommend using avif if available, this format is relative new. If it's not supported by the browser you may fallback to webp. If webp isn't supported, fallback to the original format (like jpg, png, or gif).
  • Compress the images, with a tool like compressor.io you can remove the file size a lot. This tool removes EXIF information, reduces the image quality, or even resizes it. You can use the "lossy", "lossless" or even a "custom" compression type.

Minify assets

Styling (.css) or javascript (.js) assets contain much information, but when you don't minify the assets it contains a lot of white spaces. All those whitespaces are consuming extra bandwidth and increasing the overall loading time.

Therefore you could use a trick like assets minify. With asset-minifying you remove all the unnecessary data from the assets.

TailwindCSS: controlling file size

TailwindCSS: controlling file size

Here is an example of TailwindCSS, the uncompressed file size is 2413kB and after minifying only 1967kB. This is an improvement of 18,4%.

Asset compression

After you minified your assets it can use some compression. There are multiple ways to compress the data.

At this moment I'm using Brotli compression for this site, but there are also other methods like gzip and bzip2.

HTTP compression is a capability that can be built into web servers and web clients to improve transfer speed and bandwidth utilization.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_compression

Newest HTTP protocol

Make use of HTTP protocols like HTTP/2 or HTTP/3 (QUIC). These new protocols improve loading time & efficiency. The visitors' browser can load multiple assets at the same time using these protocols.

Want to know more about HTTP/3? Take a look at this blogpost by Cloudflare.

Payments

Use a payment service provider that you can trust, they are handling all your payments during one of the most important times of the year for a webshop. So which one can you use? Here is a list of all payment service providers that are useful:

Not all payment service providers operator globally, be sure that they are offering the payment methods your customers can use.

Did I miss a PSP (Payment Service Provider)? Please let me know!

Hosting

The backbone of your webshop is the hosting, it's the thing customers connect to when they want to buy something from your webshop. Maybe your hosting is running fine at this moment, but what happens when you get viral and receive 20x the amount of traffic as normal?

Webshop/website hosting

Fast and reliable, it has to load a lot of visitors. Maybe there are some spikes in the amount of traffic that's coming to your site. But overall, need to be stable. You don't want to wake up at night and because you had a nightmare about your server that's offline.

Email hosting

There are many email services, maybe it's included in your hosting package? I prefer to use a dedicated service that's a specialist in email hosting. Here is a list of services you can use:

Monitor your webshop

You want to know when there is something wrong with your webshop, therefore you need to monitor it. You can do it yourself, but what if your own monitoring is offline? Therefore I recommend using an external service that is checking your webshop of the website if it's online.

Did I miss some items for preparing your webshop for the holiday season? Please let me know!

Robin Dirksen
Robin Dirksen

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If you want to know more about this article or just want to talk to me, don't hesitate to reach out.

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