The Smart Retail Tech Expo logo

25th & 26th Feb 2025

ExCeL, London

Preparing for another frantic festive season

What we learnt from Black Friday and how to control hefty traffic surges as we head for the busiest shopping season of the year

On the first day of Christmas, my truelove sent to me: site crashes, lockouts, too much traffic to cope with, a terrible customer experience, and a massive loss of revenue…

Black Friday looks as though it was as popular as ever in 2021, despite the problems retailers—online and off—have faced over a very tricky couple of years.

The pandemic taught us to rely ever-heavily on our online providers. It wasn’t only our supermarkets that saw massive spikes in safer contactless online shopping. The varying lockdowns and non-essential retail outlet closures taught those who weren’t so savvy with eCommerce that there was a whole new way to get their hands on the goods they needed.

As life has slowly returned to some kind of normal, we’re now facing a new set of problems. Demand is as high as it ever was, higher in fact, but due to transport and supply issues, shoppers face further challenges procuring the items they want and need, and even more, meeting their delivery schedules.

Christmas deliveries will continue to put a strain on retailers and their delivery partners

Black Friday deals won’t hold quite the same kind of delivery expectations as our Christmas shopping will. We’re all likely to be happier to wait a few extra days (or weeks!) to receive our knockdown or half-price TVs, consoles, iPhones, and gadgets.

But at Christmas? If those gifts aren’t under the tree by the 24th, there’s going to be a lot of broken hearts and tears come Christmas morning.

Despite local and global delivery issues making the news almost daily, many consumers will still leave their shopping until the last minute—we’re just human, after all. Sadly, with that comes more pressure on an already struggling system, and all at a time when we need it the most.

Heading into the festivities, online retail is set to be busier than ever

According to a UK Retail Trend Report from Conductor (a customer-first tech marketing platform), online shoppers are likely to increase by 28% over the festive season of 2021. The survey (carried out in the US and UK) showed that shoppers are unlikely to change their shopping habits despite the global supply chain issues that suppliers and logistics companies face today.

Ecommerce is becoming a mighty battleground for retailers on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the entire Christmas shopping season.

What does that mean for web-traffic management and system surges?

With fewer items available from each retailer, our online shoppers are likely to be on a wilder hunt than ever for this year’s latest must-have gifts, jumping from retailer to retailer to snap up those last few gold-dust purchases.

Will that affect the amount of traffic that hits our eCommerce stores? You bet it will.

We used to believe that Amazon controlled everything and anything online shopping. Yet, as the Conductor report shows, buyers are heading for specific sellers instead of running straight to the all-encompassing giant. And if they don’t have the items that they’re looking for? Well, it’s on to the next. And the next. And the next…

Are you ready for the surges in your system?

If you’re an online retailer, are you ready? Can your system safely manage the vastly increased numbers we’re expecting to see as we hit December and for the rest of the month? Or are you crossing your fingers your existing systems won’t be stretched to breaking point?

The solution to your eCommerce demand problem

When it comes to increased traffic and bandwidth issues, several practices can help ease pressure and provide your visitors with a better experience, keeping them happy and informed and keeping hold of the sales you depend on.

You could upgrade your website to manage bigger numbers, adding more capacity when you need it—but do you know how much you’re likely to need and what that costs?

Alternatively, you could take advantage of content distribution networks or compression filters. They could help, or you could add a simple, single line of JavaScript to organise all of your overflow traffic into a neat and orderly queue.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, the good news is, it is.

Managing your excess traffic into customised, comforting queues

Queue-Fair offers retailers an off-site virtual waiting room—a neat and ordered queuing system that’s fair, fast, and great for business. When your website isn’t under pressure, you won’t even know it’s there. When it is, it’ll save your site from unwanted crashes, slow-downs, lock-ups, and lost sales.

Here’s how it works:

Traffic flows into your website. If everything is okay, life carries on as usual. However, if you’re close to your traffic limit, new visitors will be filtered away from your website into a first-come, first-served queue until it’s their turn to return to your website.

What’s better, those customers are continually informed of every detail and data they need—from their position in the queue to the time until they'll flow back into the site. What’s better still, with so many customisation options, you can use that time to upsell or introduce your queue to associated items and more must-have special offers.

Before you know it, they’re back on your site with a full basket, and everyone’s managed to stay calm, collected, and comforted.

What about the Christmas Change Freeze?

For those who don’t know what that is, it’s the period of highly-anticipated heavy traffic where engineers and managers are reluctant to update or alter their websites in case teething problems and testing causes a drop in traffic or unseen issues from unexpected bugs and setbacks.

With that in mind, most updates typically scheduled for December are held back until January, when there’s a lot less to lose with far lower traffic and sales stakes on the table.

Queue-Fair has the CCF worriers covered

Queue-Fair doesn’t add any complicated and troublesome updates to your website—all it takes is a single line of JavaScript.

For those who want more control, it offers server side integration, but to get you through the frantic, festive period, all it takes is a simple, single line of code.

For those who want an effective and structured solution to that extra, expected traffic, Queue-Fair delivers the peace of mind you need, as well as the peace and goodwill of the season.