Will Your Database (and Sales) Survive Christmas 2020?

Posted in: Business Insights, Technical Track

Will your database (and sales) survive Christmas 2020?

The 2020 edition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is now behind us. But smart organizations are still studying it closely. That’s because, for better or worse, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a lot to say about how well or badly your systems will function in the days leading up to Christmas.

Let’s talk about what we can expect in the coming weeks. For all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it hasn’t changed people’s minds about shopping. Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast predicts that this year’s sales are likely to be up between 1 percent and 1.5 percent, with U.S. sales totaling over $1.1 trillion between November and January. 

Not surprisingly, the big difference this year is how much of that shopping will be done online. Mainly because of COVID, e-commerce sales are expected to jump between 25 and 35 percent from last year’s totals. In the U.S. alone, that will translate to revenues between $182 billion and $196 billion.

So, who will grab those sales, and who will miss out? Again, Deloitte has some answers. In their 2020 study, Milliseconds Make Millions, the consultancy found that an improvement of just one second in site speed had a massive impact on sales and overall engagement. In the study, that one-second advantage boosted conversions by 8 percent for retail sites, and by 10 percent for travel sites.

And conversions were only part of the story. At sites that loaded just one second faster, retail purchases increased by almost 10 percent, while luxury consumers stayed longer, adding 8 percent more page views to their visits.

Nobody wants to look back on high bounce rates and abandoned shopping carts. Fortunately, there are steps you can take right now to make sure you’re prepared. If Black Friday / Cyber Monday caused you any concerns, you’ll want to arrange a database health check as soon as possible. And even if your system performed well, there are seven additional steps that every e-commerce enterprise should be taking right now:

  1. With last year’s metrics, forecast this year’s consumption and use those numbers to load test.
  2. Check your backup and failover strategy, and do disaster-recovery testing.
  3. Perform a database configuration check, and make sure all settings are accurate and per your hardware.
  4. Test your high-availability solution, and carry out connection pooling for your anticipated traffic.
  5. Clean up and archive your old data.
  6. Make sure all recent, ongoing and pending issues are resolved.
  7. Establish a code / configuration freeze date to take unknown risks out of play.

2020 has presented business with unprecedented challenges, but the year is ending with an unprecedented opportunity, as well. The public’s hunger for safe, online shopping is a clear sign that record sales are coming. And what we know from consumer behavior is that the bulk of those sales will go to sites that make the shopping experience speedy and fun, with zero frustration from home page to checkout. 

Yes, Christmas is coming. Make sure your database is ready. 

If you run a SQL environment, Pythian has more great advice. Take advantage of our SQL Server Health Check Offer before the holiday rush. You’ll get a full examination of your SQL Server estate by a Microsoft MVP, plus an hour-long knowledge-transfer session that includes our analysis and recommendations for your system. The SQL Server Health Check offer ends December 18, 2020, so don’t wait. Book your session now.

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