Black Friday is just around the corner – Whoopeeee! Warm-up your index finger and get ready to click, tap, and swipe yourself into nirvana in what is likely to be the greatest online shopping frenzy in history. In the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday season, the National Retail Foundation reported a record high of 190 million online shoppers, up 14% from the previous year. While the split between in-store and online shopping is usually about equal, a shift towards online shopping is expected this year, largely due to COVID-19, but also because it’s considered more convenient. With more customers moving online, the prospect of a Black Friday bug should be a top concern for eCommerce websites this year.
The hourly cost of a Black Friday bug can reach $4.4 million
Let’s do a rough calculation.
The cost of downtime
In 2014, Gartner estimated the average cost of downtime at well over $300,000 per hour. But this number continues to rise, and today, an hour of downtime is estimated at over $1 Million.
The US Department of Commerce Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales report for Q4, 2019, states that in 2019, consumers spent over $600 billion online with US merchants alone. That averages out to $1.6 billion per day.
Forbes says that Black Friday sales in 2019 reached $ 7.2 billion, which is 4.4 times higher than the daily average we just calculated.
So, if sales are 4.4 times higher on Black Friday, it’s reasonable to roughly estimate that the cost of Black Friday bugs will also be 4.4 times higher. Hence, we get to $4.4 million per hour.
So how do you prepare for Black Friday?
There are many ways to prepare for Black Friday. Here are three things you can do to make sure this year’s online shopping frenzy shows up in your bottom line.
Well, that’s bit of a no-brainer. We’re always fixing bugs. And yet, a study by Applause showed that 22 of the top retailers in the US had 350 valuable or severe bugs on their eCommerce sites.
Which bugs should you be prioritizing for Black Friday? That same study showed that the three main parts of the customer journey afflicted with bugs were Purchase intent (e.g., shopping cart, product pages), Product search (e.g., Homepage search, reviews, catalog), and Company and customer service (e.g., store locator, shipping and returns). So, before November 27 rolls around, grab your latest QA report and see how many bugs are connected to your customer journey.
Prepare for traffic spikes
SimilarWeb showed that on Black Friday 2019, web traffic to eCommerce sites increased by 137% on average, but in some cases, the spike was nearly 10x.
Stress-test your website to understand its limitations. When does it break? At what point does it start to slow down? If your web pages take more than 3 seconds to load, you could lose 50% of your customers.
Have a plan
Like any adventure, if it’s well-planned, the chances of success are better. As you count down the days before Thanksgiving, think about things like what features you want to release, when to have a code freeze, what tests to run, what KPIs to measure, how to manage incidents. Each company is going to focus on different aspects of their website. Make sure you know what you’re doing to be ready for the big day.
What to do if a Black Friday bug does occur?
A glance at downdetector.com will show that even the biggest names in any industry experience downtime every day. In spite of everything there is to lose and all the preparations, Black Friday is no different. Black Friday bugs will happen. Websites slow down, shopping carts make mistakes, UI glitches prevent orders from being finalized. A thousand different things can and will go wrong.
In 2017, Macy’s wasn’t able to process credit card and gift card payments for several hours, both in its stores nationwide and online. Beyond the direct loss in revenue, the company was slammed on social media. Then, in 2018, both J. Crew and Lowes suffered website sluggishness and outages, greeting online shoppers with a screen that said “Hang on a sec,” explaining traffic was heavier than usual instead of offering awesome deals with 50% off. And, no doubt, if you visit downdetector.com on November 27, you’ll be able to predict which household retail names you’ll see in the media on November 28.
Once things go sideways, the best you can do is to remedy the problem as quickly as possible and get those deals back online. Here’s where Ozcode can help.
Ozcode Production Debugger makes short work of Black Friday Bugs
Once you assess the severity of an exception by the number of times it is thrown or the number of users it affects, you can select it for debugging with full time-travel debug information to determine the root cause of the error.
And if you’re experiencing a logical error (say, your shopping cart isn’t calculating your Black Friday discounts correctly), you can then add some tracepoints to the exception capture and use dynamic logging to identify where the problem is.
You can add as many tracepoints as you like and update the logging as needed without redeploying your application, and it even works across microservices.
Just think by how much slashing your debugging time by up to 80% can help minimize your losses. And the exception captures are always available in the Ozcode dashboard for you to analyze so you can make sure to avoid these errors on Cyber Monday.
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