Are you ready for the Christmas rush?
May this be a lesson to any online retailer or business whose website is likely to see a lot of traffic over a sustained period: Make sure your servers can handle it!
Argos committed the cardinal sin of allowing their website to collapse during one the biggest weekends for online shopping, leading to an outpouring of hate and thunder on social media from customers who couldn’t complete orders via the website and were forced to shop elsewhere, including one of Argos’ biggest commercial rivals, Amazon.
The retail giant has since apologised – and fixed the issue with their website – but the damage had already been done. Although Argos are highly unlikely to see any long-term harm done to their reputation or sales, this kind of oversight would likely have been catastrophic for a small business, and should be held up as a cautionary tale:
Get your website up and running and ensure that it can handle the traffic.
If the website going down wasn’t enough, Argos has also been targeted by scammers, who have been aiming to steal personal information and card details from customers via email and telephone. Argos have stressed that they would never ask customers to hand over personal information in an unsolicited email and to be on the lookout for any likely scams.
These scams have grown in number since the Talk Talk scandal last month, which saw four million customers’ personal information leaked to the world following a hacking of the company, the third time the company had been a victim of cybercrime in the last year.
Argos released the following statement on Sunday:
“We have identified and fixed the issue and our site is now up and running. We apologise to any customer who has tried to contact us unsuccessfully and we are working to respond to all enquiries as soon as we can.”
As you can tell from this series of Tweets, it may take something a little more persuasive to heal the wounds…
Ouch, don’t fancy being in a Customer Service call centre at Argos right now.
Prepping Your Website for Traffic Overload
If you’re an online retailer planning a humongous sale for the Christmas period, and you don’t want to find yourself in the midst of an Argos-style meltdown, you need to prepare your website for the extra traffic it’s going to receive.
You should already be with a trusted web hosting company, ask around and see who others are using. There are some good small ones out there like Evohosting who offer great support or you may want to consider one of the larger companies like GoDaddy. However, do the research and don’t be afraid to ask them what the implications would be in a traffic surge and how your site may be impacted. There are a number of places to review the Top 10 web hosting companies list for a decent comparison and always look to get unlimited storage and bandwidth where possible. If selling products remember your SSL certificate and consider VPS hosting and other options away from shared hosts.
One of the best ways to insure yourself against these crashes is to put your website and design in the hands of a reputable digital marketing agency that specialises in building websites and can help offer help and guidance on your hosting requirements. Looking at your site security, backups and downtime alerts are all important for sites operating 24/7.