Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving when retailers across the country roll out huge discounts and offer extended shopping hours – has long since been the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Personally, I’ve never been able to get onboard with the idea of waking up at 5 AM, still painfully full of turkey and dressing, to waddle my sleepy self out to stand in line and freeze with hundreds of other strangers just for a chance to get a few dollars off a TV. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels that way, which is possibly one reason why in recent years Cyber Monday, the online counterpart to Black Friday, has been gaining unprecedented popularity.
Last year alone, online shoppers spent a collective $1.4 billion on Cyber Monday, just three days after Black Friday. For online-based small businesses this trend is obviously exciting and encouraging, but Cyber Monday’s big numbers come with challenges of their own. The fact is, a lot of small online businesses aren’t used to seeing such a high volume in traffic in such a short period of time. While this might look great for sales, the wave of traffic could actually work against you if you aren’t prepared for it – having a bigger-than-average audience means you want to perform at the top of your game.
In the spirit of not freezing up or crashing down when the hoards of online shoppers come calling on Cyber Monday, here are some steps you can take to ensure that your website is fortified for all the bright, shiny success:
- Migrate on-premise IT to the Cloud
VPS hosting – may be perfect no matter the size of your business, as it gives your business the opportunity to scale, to address unique needs as they arise. This goes beyond an ordinary cloud hosting solution with more elastic servers, plus the benefit of around-the-clock support.
- Move to a dedicated server
When you share a server with other sites, all sites involved tend to run a bit slower – particularly if your business volume and storage has grown beyond your original hosting plans parameters. On an average traffic day, this might not be such a big deal, but on a day like Cyber Monday, you would undoubtedly benefit from housing your site on a dedicated server. Not only will your site be less likely to slow or crash, but you won’t risk bringing down other sites with you.
- Talk to a pro
Cloud scaling and being on a solid server will go a long way. In fact, those two steps might very well be all your online small business needs to be strong and stable going into Cyber Monday. That said, the absolute best way to make sure there aren’t any hidden weaknesses in your setup is to get a specialist to go over your particular online setup, tighten up any loose parts, and generally help you clean house before the flood of deal-seeking guests arrive.