Credit: Nicola Fahy from Tenzing
As the summer winds down, it may seem like Christmas is still far away. However, clever retailers are already planning for the holiday season. If you’re like many merchants who do the bulk of their business in the last two months of the year, now is the time to begin planning for it.
On top of ramping up your marketing and preparing your fulfillment team, ecommerce retailers need to focus on the infrastructure and back-end of their web store. Your marketing team is likely hoping to drive record levels of traffic to the site over the holidays, and now is the time to make sure your site can handle that traffic.
One of the best ways to do this is by investing in managed cloud hosting. These solutions combine the flexibility and scalability of public clouds, with the support, security and service of an experienced ecommerce managed services provider. If you’re expecting a busy holiday season, consider the following five ways managed cloud hosting could help you.
In the past, retailers expecting a large spike in traffic over the holiday season would be stuck paying for extra capacity all year long. In recent years, scalable cloud infrastructure means that your environment can grow and shrink in real time so that you can always deliver an amazing customer experience without overpaying. Services like Amazon Web Services can be configured to auto-scale when a certain traffic threshold is hit.
Recent high-profile breaches and vulnerabilities have eroded consumer confidence, which is why it is more important than ever to protect your reputation by delivering a secure shopping experience. A managed hosting provider specializing in ecommerce can help keep your environment secure with services designed to satisfy your PCI requirements while protecting your customer data. When that ecommerce specialist is managing your environment on the public cloud, you also have the option for built in disaster recovery. What has traditionally been one of the most expensive elements of an enterprise ecommerce environment is now available for minimum cost. Most public clouds offer affordable standby configuration that remove any single points of failure from your environment.
While many infrastructure providers offer private cloud options for ecommerce, they cannot guarantee the level of uptime offered by public cloud vendors. Public cloud infrastructure allows you to benefit from service level agreements with up to 99.999% availability.
Generic hosting providers may advertise specialized support, but often your call is directed to an inexpert level one support technician who may not have any experience with your application. Surprisingly, for most of the time a site goes down the infrastructure isn’t to blame. More often it is updates to the application, integrations, and simple code changes that cause issues – but you don’t know that immediately. It’s important to invest in specialized support so you have a team to call that can help you troubleshoot, especially during your busy season. A managed service provider will also handle things like antivirus updates, patching and performance monitoring, giving you a chance to focus on your core business.
The benefit of an (almost) infinitely scalable environment is that your customer experience is protected. There is a ton of research that demonstrates how loading time affects conversions and revenue. This is especially important to consider during cyber month when online advertising is at its most expensive. If your infrastructure isn’t able to handle the high volumes of the holiday shoppers, your customers will go elsewhere so now is the time to protect that experience with a cloud solution.
Working with an ecommerce specialized managed service provider means that you’ll have help getting ready for the holiday seasons. From capacity planning to load testing and security scanning, a vendor with industry experience can guide you through best practices and processes to get your business ready for the busy season.