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Tanya Valdez is a Technical Writer at Constellix. She makes the information-transfer material digestible through her own transfer of information to our customers and readers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Are consumers and businesses ready for the quickly-approaching 2020 holiday online shopping season? One month into the current COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed a 146% year-over-year growth in all online retail orders, according to Forbes. Now more than ever, shoppers will be making the vast majority of their 2020 holiday shopping purchases online in unprecedented numbers. Retailers have been implementing enhanced features to their websites to accommodate the influx of online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure ease-of-use for a positive customer experience.
Many consumers have been accustomed to last-minute holiday shopping. It has been reported that the current pandemic has unexpectedly caused the earliest start to this year’s holiday shopping season. Retailers have been attempting to accelerate the start of the holiday shopping season for quite some time now, but there’s more of a push in this endeavor in hopes to avoid in-store crowds and shipping bottlenecks in the latter part of the season. To avoid a similar shopping experience online, retailers are attempting to avoid a surge in orders in November and December, which could cause severe delays in packages arriving, but will this be enough to be prepared? Delays in holiday packages would definitely create some cranky kids and even crankier adults.
We have never witnessed online experiences the way we have in 2020, and we have yet to experience a holiday season during the time of a pandemic. Some major retailers are even moving up their Friday-after-Thanksgiving sale to October. While online retailers work to kick-start the holiday shopping season, we need to take a serious look at what can be done to brace for the congestion that is expected to come. There are additional solutions that can assist so that retailers don’t have to rely on this strategy alone.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) can become overwhelmed and experience lag and even, dare I say, outages. Most outages seemingly derive from improperly managed DNS or lack of redundancy. These problems open the doors to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, in which the attacker floods the site and/or services with consequential traffic that can overwhelm it. Top brands are experiencing exponentially stronger and more frequent DDoS attacks as time progresses. A new type of DDoS attack was discovered this past May called RangeAmp, which exploits the HTTP range requests that allow downloading files in parts. The increased traffic causes CDNs to overwhelm the site, leaving it unreachable to end users.
Along with attacks, there are many different reasons a website can become unavailable to the end user. There are numerous assets that need to load and render properly, in which a website’s performance and availability is dependent upon. DNS is the most critical, because it is the ingress point that decides whether or not a website will be available or not before most other assets can even load.
Best Solution for Online Retailers
While the approach to kickstart holiday shopping seems logical, there’s no denying the fact that there will still be plenty of consumers who will wait until the last two months of the year – the busiest shopping months. Plus, the busiest shopping day of the year is not being split across multiple days to avoid a surge of traffic; it is simply being moved to another day. Sure, this will have a positive impact on getting some holiday shoppers to stop dragging their feet and give a nudge to start a bit earlier, but what good is that if your network is not prepared? Many online retailers and businesses were not ready for all of the curveballs that 2020 has thrown our way, so how prepared is e-commerce for 2020’s holiday shopping season?
Having one CDN provider to handle such substantial traffic is no longer enough. Let’s try to imagine reliving the Tickle Me Elmo craze during this holiday shopping season using one CDN. Parents and Elmo wouldn’t be the only ones seeing red. Amazon suffered an hour of downtime during Prime Day in July of 2018 that was estimated to have cost them $72 million to $99 million in lost sales, as reported by Business Insider. These losses were due to the site outage and continued website issues, such as broken links. Outage losses can have lasting effects far behind consumers abandoning their carts, and this was quite apparent during Prime Day’s outage, with frustrated customers threatening to cancel their Amazon Prime subscriptions. These are unwanted losses that can keep on giving, like Aunt Edna’s dreaded fruit cake.
Constellix can greatly assist in maximizing accessibility to your site and/or services that is crucial to offer the best online experience for your visitors. Constellix’s Multi-CDN solution allows the implementation of additional CDNs to optimize the speed of content delivery and assist in avoiding latency and outage issues. A real-time analytics engine surveys each user’s query and routes them accordingly to the CDN that will provide the end user with the healthiest and fastest experience. In the event that a CDN experiences an outage or lag, the user will unknowingly be rerouted to the best CDN for their query. This creates a win-win situation for both the retailer and the end user, and everyone wants a piece of the holiday pie in 2020. Leaving a bad taste in a buyer’s mouth is the last thing big brands want when the competition is fierce.
A single CDN implementation can drastically assist with page load-time improvement, however they are inherently vulnerable to performance fluctuations and frequent outages. We’ve heard the saying, “There is strength in numbers.” This is exceedingly true when it comes to CDN providers on a single network. Without a backup CDN provider configured to reroute site traffic to, all of the preparation that retailers are currently doing in simply moving up the start of the holiday shopping season could potentially be all for naught. Many retailers do not spend the time investing in a DNS service that invests in infrastructure and prides itself on 100% uptime history. Being built by the same network that powers DNS Made Easy, Constellix is backed by 19 years of unmatched, battle-tested DNS expertise.
Are you ready for the influx of traffic your site and services will be receiving for the rapidly-approaching holiday season?
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