Navigating Black Friday and the Holiday Shopping Season in 2020

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When it comes to shopping online, customers tend to develop loyalties to businesses that have consistently provided them with positive user experiences. Most of them already have solid expectations about their choice of retailers, check-out procedures, costs, and delivery options. For example, if I needed a computer part, I would be more inclined to use a specialized store rather than a giant retailer like Amazon, unless they offered it for a better price. On Black Friday, I would only check the discount tab to see if there were any really good deals.

You might assume that it would take a lot of trial and error, forward thinking, and front-end capital to be able to gain that level of trust. Indeed, according to Failory, around 80% of ecommerce businesses fail in their e-commerce endeavors.

What, then, does that mean for the software development organizations that operate as the backbone of those enterprises?

In this article, we will discuss the most important strategies to use when preparing a platform for Black Friday or any other big holiday sale. In addition, we will explain why these strategies are important for DevOps teams as well as how they can deploy solutions in ways that maximize sales and help ensure the success of their business.

Black Friday Sales and Beyond

Like all shopping seasons, Black Friday is about satisfying consumer needs – but on Black Friday, those consumers will be looking for discounts of 75% or more. Therefore, the margins of offers are higher, and the timeline for the seller to make a profit is much shorter than it is during other seasonal sales. This means that the conversion of click-to-buy action needs to be more definite. To prepare for the sales season, companies should create a retail strategy that makes the shopping experience incredibly positive, turns clicks into buys, and speeds up the whole process.

To understand how to do that effectively, you need to think about the whole user experience from start to finish. Bear in mind that you may have to add temporary features to your website and/or application in order to set the stage for a successful Black Friday. To help you prepare, we will take a look at design and then explore your UX and user experience.

Design, Design, Design

As Paul Rand said, “Design is everything…everything.” It is essential to understand the ways in which your design affects your sales. A good design brings out the best traits and makes the brand more recognizable. It also creates a more straightforward shopping experience for consumers, which makes them happier and increases your chance of making sales. When you provide a nice, accessible design that your users can understand with little or no effort, then sales and satisfaction will depend on how you deliver on your promises. Customers will always want better prices, better products, high-quality service, and fast delivery. They also don’t like surprises like last-minute changes to the price of the item in their cart, which can be very tricky to manage if you are over-promising or under-delivering. Don’t forget that customers tend to get much more competitive during Black Friday too.

When it comes to Black Friday, we tend to think about selling fast and in bulk (to make up for the reduced prices of products). Customers who land on your page will want to look for the best deals – and fast. It’s important to get their attention and keep it. This won’t be possible if your design is:

  • Not easily accessible for people with disabilities
  • Not converging sales (not selling popular goods or not offering good enough discounts)
  • Not clear about delivery times and cost
  • Pushy and loud, with garish colors and fonts
  • Not obviously geared towards Black Friday or other holiday sales

In order to implement and deliver this design experience, you need a solid and reliable infrastructure and delivery network. All of these components should work seamlessly together and synchronize with each other automatically. If you have fragmented tools or too many tools working independently, then you may miss opportunities.

UX Best Practices

As Marissa Mayer said, “The utmost thing is the user experience, to have the most useful experience.” By definition, a UX is what a user experiences when using a product. Having a high-quality UX means using high-quality tools, including tools for prototyping, researching, feedback, A/B testing, and more.

When working on the UX, development teams should leverage all of the available tooling to understand user behavior, optimize their UX for speed and performance, and scale it when the load increases while keeping it secure and reliable.

Let’s examine a few of those in the context of a holiday sale.

User Experience Monitoring

To understand how users will behave, you have to understand what happens during Black Friday (or other holidays) and what will get users to buy from you and not your competition.

Answering the first question is easy: it’s all about profits, discounts, and making sure the sales close quickly (with some bartering involved). Answering the second question is also easy: you have to invest in proper user experience monitoring solutions such as AIOps from Broadcom.

These are the tools that help engineers understand how applications behave and perform on end devices, and more importantly, how to identify missed opportunities and ways to make the whole experience faster, smoother, and more predictable. Nothing is more disheartening than having your whole team effort negated by a slow website or an unpleasant user experience.

If you have a real-time management system with enhanced granularity controls, you can act proactively and prevent performance issues ahead of time.

Secure Navigation and Payments

When users navigate your website, they should feel confident in your security. However, if you introduce too many security controls without the ability to opt out, you are likely to annoy your potential customers. For example, consider your shopping cart:

Ideally, you only want to have one extra authentication prompt that gives the option to provide the cart details. Then, all payments should be processed with utmost reliance in order to ensure fewer transaction issues. Failure to do so may cause customers to leave without completing their purchases. They may also leave without buying anything if they see something that looks fishy, especially with the price calculation.

Broadcom’s Payment Security is the leading provider of secure payment services, since Broadcom operates the largest global e-commerce authentication network. With the spike in sales during Black Friday (or other holidays), it’s important that you have fewer security incidents overall.

Conclusion

User experience monitoring tools (particularly tools driven by AI) can give your organization a competitive advantage by aligning and prioritizing the most critical tasks. With this powerful service, DevOps teams can make informed decisions about the state of the infrastructure and act accordingly, making them more efficient and more effective.

 

To learn more about how Broadcom’s AIOps solution can help you ensure positive user experiences this holiday shopping season, visit www.broadcom.com/aiops.


Theo Despoudis is a Senior Software Engineer, a consultant and an experienced mentor. He has a keen interest in Open Source Architectures, Cloud Computing, best practices and functional programming. He occasionally blogs on several publishing platforms and enjoys creating projects from inspiration. Follow him on Twitter @nerdokto. Theo is a regular contributor at Fixate IO.


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