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Searching for Holiday Profits

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It’s October and the holiday season has already begun for e-commerce merchants and online consumers.

E-commerce merchants who wait until November to prepare their websites for the holiday season will lose out on a large percentage of online consumers. One of the most exciting aspects of being a website developer is that you can often improve e-sales dramatically by making some minor website adjustments.


Here's a short list of a couple of simple adjustments you can make to your website to improve your 2010 holiday profits.


Create Holiday Themed Landing Pages
Improve the conversion rates on your site’s landing pages by experimenting with different holiday designs and creative elements. The holiday theme lets consumers know that the site is current and gets them in the holiday mood making it more likely that they would make a purchase. There is nothing more important on an e-commerce landing page than displaying your holiday products and promotions. The difference between a good E-commerce website from not so good one is the ease of purchase for the consumer.


Navigation and Usability
User-Friendliness and Ease of Navigation is critical, the more complicated it is for your consumers to find the products they want, the more likely they are to pass through without a purchase. The navigation must be simple, clean and appealing so that the consumer can easily navigate and browse the store.


Here are some suggestions on what to do to improve your navigation.

  • Offer consumers multiple ways to navigate. By giving your consumers multiple ways to navigate, depending on their goals and desires, you can keep them engaged.
  • Ensure that navigating doesn't take too long. The rule of thumb is that visitors should be able to get exactly where they want to go in eight seconds or less.
  • Use breadcrumb navigation trails. Without such navigation, consumers easily get bored, think the process is going to go on forever and abandon their purchase halfway.
  • Add a search function. The search function as a critical element of building a profitable website, you cannot sell a product if your consumers cannot find it.  

Plan for the Holiday Rush
A recent survey found that a third of online consumers had a bad experience on E-commerce websites the last holiday season (e.g., slow downloads, frequent errors and/or transaction failures). The study also found that when a company's website performs poorly during peak traffic times, 78% of the visitors defect to a competitor's site.


Here are a few technical pointers for building highly scalable E-commerce websites.

  • Page Caching. To truly speed up your site, you will want to implement server-side caching.
  • Decoupling. Separate site traffic from the back-end database load.
  • Dynamic Rendering. Separate content and format until they meet in the visitor's browser. 

Have a Backup Plan
If you’re E-commerce website experiences downtime or delays during the holiday season it could lead to a significant loss of profit.


Here are a few options you will need to consider.

  • Additional Servers. Additional servers will help ease the load on the existing servers.
  • Load Balancer. A load balancer balances the load between your servers, ensuring that no single server carries most of the load.
  • Cache Server. Unlike a load balancer, the cache server collects and distributes content to different servers.

You cannot afford to have any disruptions during the holiday season. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.