GUEST COMMENT Unexpected traffic booms caused by celebrity endorsement could be trouble for retaile
Celebrity endorsements in the media are driving traffic to retailers’ sites when they don’t always expect it. Without foresight into whether their item will be featured in the press, retailers can find it challenging to prepare appropriately for these unexpected sales booms.
Many retailers are already familiar with the ‘Kate Effect’ as Kate Middleton continues to influence fashion sales. In fact, fashion designer Cecile Reinaud saw an unexpected rise in sales after one of its dresses was worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. In another instance, Petit Bateau saw its dungarees sell out as they were worn by Prince George on his first birthday and even Kim Kardashian’s visit to Thailand sparked a rise in bookings there for Hotels.com.
This kind of exposure is hugely valuable for retailers, but without a reliable back-end system in place they are at risk of damaging their brand if their website crashes and they cannot fulfil the unforeseen customer demand. Brands cannot afford to lose out because of a website malfunction or a transaction failure.
Cloud-based managed DNS can help brands manage traffic booms, enabling retailers to plan ahead, identify any risks and make smart decisions for upcoming periods based on data. Since it is possible to plan ahead, if you do foresee a rise in traffic, be prepared. Identify market trends where your sector is likely to see high demand and plan for seasonal peaks (like Mother’s Day and Christmas), which are likely to be busier than normal. Through marketing and advertising tactics, for example, a celebrity sponsorship deal, you can even drive endorsements and therefore anticipate more demand.
It’s imperative that the customer experience doesn’t suffer because of a traffic peak; if the page is slow to load or process a payment you will lose customers, money and relationships. Amazon.com reported that for every 100 milliseconds of latency, they lose 1% in sales. The worst-case scenario is downtime when purchases can’t be made.
Consumers are looking for efficiency. If you’re worried about the amount of traffic, one answer is load balancing. This allows you to balance your load across your servers, which optimises your resources, minimises response time, and avoids overload. In addition, Active Failover to create redundancy means that if the worst should happen, you'll have options. If you have a data centre or server failure, Active Failover enables your website to stay up and running as your traffic is automatically re-routed to an alternate endpoint that you have pre-configured.
All of these back-end features mean you are thinking about your customers’ entire journey and the experience of your brand – from accessing your website to ensuring your emails hit their inbox. In addition, consumers are now shopping online from all over the world and are demanding the same user experience and quality around the globe Geolocation Load Balancing means you can more granularly manage your traffic based on location. By putting global systems in place to cope with demand, you can stop your website from slowing down or deteriorating in quality.
At busy times the performance of your site is crucial to whether a customer will come back to buy from you again, so be critical of your site and try to improve it. Is it easy to find product information? How long and complicated is the checkout process? How does it compare to your competitors? Repeat business is far more profitable than trying to recruit new customers so your user experience needs to be better than your challengers.
Continue the positive experience for the customer to the very end. Firstly, be sure to send a personalised email confirmation immediately after they have purchased. Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%, according to a study by Aberdeen.
Be prepared to provide support afterwards. The customer’s experience of your brand hasn’t finished until they decide not to return the item, so ensure you have capacity to deal with any questions. They might not have had enough information about the product in the first place to make an educated purchase, or may have a question about returns. In this case, ensure all queries are answered in a timely manner. You need to be accessible, offer channels for support and set customers’ expectations around when they will hear from you.
Overall, celebrity endorsements provide huge brand building and customer acquisition opportunities. Don’t fall at the first hurdle by offering a poor online experience that means customers can’t purchase from you and won’t want to buy from you again. Use the exposure to impress shoppers with your ecommerce offering; a reliable and trusted site and personalised customer service will go a long way in establishing you as the preferred brand for the royals as well as thousands of other shoppers.Paul Heywood is director for EMEA at Dyn