When your marketing team is setting up a Black Friday promotion, everyone is hoping for big results. There’s a thrill in seeing your dashboards light up with coupon redemptions and when your POS back end starts to hum with the excitement of converting customers. 

But how do you stop yourself from being a victim of your own success? If you nail the creative, slam dunk the messaging, and have teens on TikTok dancing to your company jingle, what does that do to your back-end systems? 

When a Black Friday offer or product goes viral, you need your tech to keep up. The average cost of downtime on Black Friday is $4,700 per minute. That’s why we’ve prepared this article for you with key factors to consider when planning your promotion strategy for Black Friday.

Each of these steps includes a bit of a context about the technical side of things. We decided to present it to you with the example of Talon.One. Talon.One is often used with projects by Divante as a marketing and promotion engine for eCommerce systems. It contains specific solutions to address those scaling issues and ensure you’re primed for scaling success.

 

1. Prevent coupon leakage

Leakage is when a coupon is shared outside of its intended targets, preventing the coupon's target audience from benefiting because the budget is quickly depleted. In the worst case, when no upper limit is set, such leaks can cost the company many times more than what was planned, which seriously affects its revenues.

While we all want our coupons to have a high redemption rate, it only makes sense when they go to people who are actually valuable customers. With the proliferation of discount sites and social media accounts dedicated to seeking out great deals, coupon leakage has become more common than ever.

Your campaign can go viral for the wrong reason. In this instance, it’s with unscrupulous people exploiting the opportunity and sharing the details of how to game your rewards. That can put a big dent in your plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

The best strategy to prevent leakage is to ensure that your coupon validation system has a secondary characteristic that will ensure the number of redemptions is limited in some way. This can either be by having a hard limit on the number of total redemptions or by limiting redemptions per user.

One way to solve this problem is to set a budget.

setting budget Talon.One screenshot

Budgets can either be set to restrict the number of times it can be redeemed or max out at a certain amount of money. This makes it impossible to go over budget.

If you’re looking for a more individualized way to spread your budget, using a customer profile level rule can ensure that each coupon is only redeemed once per user. 

setting up a Black Friday discount in Talon.One

In the above example, we’ve created a generic coupon but limited it so that it can only be redeemed once per user. If you also limit the campaign budget, you’re protecting yourself from budget overruns. It ensures that individual users can’t take advantage of the discounts multiple times. 

2. Run stress tests before the big day

As Prime Day 2018 kicked off, shoppers reported error messages and broken landing pages on Amazon.com. In the US, Amazon is estimated to have lost $ 72.4 million in revenue in 63 minutes of downtime. That's roughly $ 1.15 million in lost revenue per minute.

Stress testing can be conducted through load testing tools by defining a test case with a very high number of concurrent virtual users. For large events like Black Friday, it’s worth considering extremely high traffic scenarios to see if your infrastructure can hold up. eCommerce shops can receive 10x more traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to regular business days. 

The earlier you begin planning for your test, the more time you’ll have to fix any errors or bottlenecks. Since events like these usually involve many stakeholders, conducting tests well in advance can help keep things aligned across teams. 

It’s still not too late to start your pre-Black Friday testing.  To quote the old Chinese proverb, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." Perhaps there are a few simple optimizations that can be done that will save time in case you need to pay attention to more serious problems in the future.

Rigid scaling is one of the most common issues you can encounter during your stress tests. One way to fix this is to meet the changing demand with dedicated auto-scaling Kubernetes server clusters.

3. Consider your promotion validation logic

When you’re operating at scale, performance matters. If you’re creating coupon or reward validation processes that have multiple nested logic functions, if they’re set to run sequentially, this can cause problems at scale. That’s because each thread has to be executed to completion sequentially. 

The best way to create validation logic is to make sure that multiple validations are happening in parallel. This means that your performance doesn’t get throttled when the number of customers redeeming rewards hits the limit of the number of threads your system can handle. 

The best way to maximize performance is to use a few cart item filters to define which products are eligible for rewards. It's a more effective approach than applying one cart item filter with many steps. This way, each cart item filter can execute in tandem rather than waiting for the previous filter to finish validating through each step. 

4. Have fail-safes and stay in communication with customers

If something does go wrong and your system reaches capacity, customers are going to start reaching out in every possible way. You need to make sure you’re building contingency plans. If there are issues in accessing and redeeming coupons or discounts, having additional systems in place to address customers’ concerns is vitally important. 

This could take the form of pre-generated coupons that can be issued to any customers with complaints. It could also mean automatically generating rewards or discounts that are issued to the customers’ personal wallets that are valid after the Black Friday rush is over. 

If you have multiple deployments, this can allow you to spread the load geographically to prevent a mission critical function error from taking down your entire Black Friday operation. Building in redundancy into your stack is also something to consider so that if something does go down, you have capacity to move the load.

Conclusion: better get ready for your eCommerce business’s best day of the year

Black Friday is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to create a buzz around their product offering. However, if you really hit a sweet spot and your viral campaign catches on, it can quickly turn into a huge challenge for marketers and the systems they rely on. If you take those four steps above, you’ll be covered in case of enormous growth in traffic, and you’ll be able to get the most out of it.

If you’re looking for more information on how to scale promotion campaigns and leverage Talon.One to avoid problems associated with big events like Black Friday, visit our website.