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  • Writer's pictureBen Koch

Holiday Readiness…Again

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

A holiday gift wrapped next to ornaments

Whether you are an eCommerce veteran or completely new to it, by now you have probably heard the words “Holiday”, “Q4 Sales”, Cyber Monday and Black Friday—all meaning one thing: are you ready for 40% more traffic and sales from October 1 through the end of the year?

In the past, eCommerce Giants, with a stable full of developers, and QA, ramped up CX as early as September to handle an increased contact volume of up to 175% over normal contacts.

But what if you don’t have the same resources to prepare for the holiday season?

Below are some operational steps and tips to help you and your team ramp up to take on the holiday rush:

Don’t do it on Friday

Do you have a price book to upload? Major content changes to make? Production changes to your checkout? A new promotion?

My recommendation: Get it done on Thursday or wait until Monday.

Here is an example of how this can ruin your weekend: One of our sales ops team accidentally uploaded Swedish currency (SKK) instead of Euros to an EU Salesforce site on a Friday afternoon. As SKK does not have decimals, Salesforce Commerce Cloud read 900SKK as 9Euros…We sold all international stock in less than 2 days forcing mass cancellations, a damage control email campaign and promotion to all customers who were affected and the main topic in several news stories. This could easily have been caught in staging and stopped if only it was not pushed on a Friday.

Speaking of which, do you even Stage?

If you sell only a few bespoke products, this may not be useful. But for those of you selling thousands of SKUs, please take note. Staging isn’t just for the Devs—it lets your merchandising, marketing and sales ops teams review the look and feel of the site before any changes go live.

Your engineering teammates may read this as 1. Impossible, 2. Impractical or 3. Getting in their way. This theory is aimed at product and catalog content, not deployments. While I prefer a weekly planned deployment schedule, I am not an engineer and would not presume to tell my Devs how to run their deployments. Also, right now you should be in code freeze, stop mucking about with the site’s skeleton during Holiday!

Just to reiterate, may I suggest no replications over the weekend? See above.

Code Freeze

It’s up to your engineers, but have the conversation and know when your deadlines are; then respect them. Hot-fixes are not good fixes. At this point, it is too late for massive changes to the functionality of the site, and you are asking for a massive CX issue if you do not respect the freeze.

Plus, your engineers will thank you for respecting the awesomeness, while they work on Q1 deliverables.

Load testing

Sell a lot of different products? Never been through Holiday before? Do you have a massive marketing campaign? Promotions? New tech deployments or sales funnel in the last 3 months?

Load-test the hell out of it.

Yes, it passed QA, (if you have an established practice); or maybe it passed a bug bash and has been live on the site for 3 weeks. But what will 300,000 visitors a day do to it? I’d hate to find out when it’s too late.

My last story, I promise. Our fraud tool was tied to our sales management platform (10 years ago). When we pulled the weekends’ ‘on hold’ orders for manual fraud review, we crashed the site…. at 9:30 AM…. on Cyber Monday, 2012 (the year that defined the eCommerce revolution to come). Please test your site for the up-and-coming madness.

Good luck on your upcoming Holiday season! Please feel free to reach out via LinkedIn and we can talk about your operations strategy.

Someone purchasing items from an online store on a laptop using a credit card


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