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The true cost of an eCommerce site crash—and how to prevent it with Wix

true cost of ecommerce site crash

Imagine that you’ve just dropped a new product. The excitement is high. Your customers are going crazy over it on social media. You can practically see all the dollar signs in your future.

But it all comes to a crashing halt—all because your site can’t handle the strain of the extra traffic.

When you’re running an online store, few things are worse than realizing that your pages have suddenly stopped loading, or that your sales have plummeted to zero. If your site fails during peak sales season, you’ve just jeopardized a quarter—maybe even a third—of your yearly revenue.

Needless to say, it’s easy to take site uptime for granted. We’re not usually thinking about the reliability of our sites or how we’re going to prevent them from crashing. This guide will bring all these things to light. We’ll dig into the common causes of a site failure in eCommerce, plus cover how Wix protects your business from a seller’s worst nightmare.

The true cost of downtime in eCommerce

For starters, it’s critical to note that the eCommerce website cost of a malfunction can have many short-term and long-term effects. Some are obvious, while others are less so.

Among the obvious: a site crash can have severe impacts on your sales. Gartner pegs this at $5,600 lost per minute whenever a site goes down. This is just an average, Gartner notes. Bigger businesses may risk tens of thousands of dollars in revenue per minute of downtime. And this could be amplified even more during the busiest shopping seasons.

In the case of Lululemon, which dealt with a massive site crash several years ago, a three-day outage would translate to a penny in earnings per share, according to Macquarie analyst Laurent Vasilescu.

“Another way to think about it is that every day the website is down, the company’s total company comp for that day is likely down double-digits,” Vasilescu told Financial Post.

Apart from eroding your sales, a site crash could lead to:

  • Lost trust - Building brand trust relies on having a great customer experience. Customers shouldn’t have to worry about their payments, product accessibility, or the professionalism of your brand. A whiff of instability in your site, and your customers may abandon you for a bigger, more reputable brand.

  • Tarnished brand reputation - Your customers talk. Word of a site failure can get around, whether because of a customer complaint online or media coverage. To make matters worse, these complaints and news stories can last for years to come. New shoppers who Google your brand may get the wrong impression if the first headline they see is of a site crash.

7 causes of an eCommerce site crash that Wix prevents

Despite the devastating blow that a site failure can cause, most sellers don’t put reliability first when learning how to build an eCommerce website or picking an eCommerce solution. Not all sites are able to withstand thousands—let alone millions—of shoppers at once. With every additional transaction or visit, your site needs to work even harder in the background.

At the same time, it’s our belief that you shouldn’t have to think about reliability. The onus is on your eCommerce platform. That’s why we built Wix to be able to adapt to situations that usually put a lot of strain on your site. Those situations include:

01. Flash sales

Most eCommerce marketing plans bake in a flash sale or two, especially around the holidays. In fact, Costco was one hopeful merchant.

In the days leading up to the 2019 Black Friday season, Costco geared up for its annual shopping frenzy. However, when Thanksgiving Day rolled around, its website bellied up. To the company’s chagrin, faced various performance issues for more than 16 hours. Altogether, Costco lost nearly $11 million in pre-Black Friday sales by the measure of one analyst.

The key takeaway: when you’re preparing for a flash sale, you’ve already got your hands full with inventory and campaign planning. But if your site is prone to slow-loading pages or other glitches, your hard work may go to waste.

The Wix fix

Traditionally, sellers would have to tap a developer to squash pagespeed issues, site hosting limitations, CDN configuration, and more. The Wix eCommerce platform, however, takes care of all this for you. With a fully-managed infrastructure, Wix offers zero-maintenance reliability. This means that you don’t have to worry about any tedious setup or site maintenance; your store can automatically benefit from multi-cloud hosting services, browser compatibility adjustments, and more.

02. Influencers and viral discount codes

It’s possible for your influencer marketing program to take off overnight. Or, an influencer may stumble upon your products organically and cause a stir unexpectedly. Think back to 2018, as an example. That’s when fashion brand Goat experienced a site crash just minutes after Meghan Markle was photographed wearing one of their dresses.

Affiliate marketing campaigns can have a similar effect. For example, a blogger may decide to write about your product and promote 25% off your product via an affiliate link. Better yet, an affiliate may leverage a platform like Reddit to attract attention—resulting in lots of unexpected brand visibility and traffic.

The Wix fix

Wix’s autoscale infrastructure ensures that if your product goes viral, your site won’t miss a beat. Our system proactively shifts user traffic to handle the extra visitors and transactions on your site—up to hundreds of millions of pageviews per minute and 750 transactions per second, to be exact.

03. New product launches

A product launch is fodder for some of the biggest PR, marketing, and sales campaigns. For some products—like video games—marketing can even begin several months before the item is officially launched.

Such was the case of the PlayStation 5. Sony announced that it would be accepting pre-orders for the PS5. Several retailers, including Target and Best Buy, followed suit—except that they started accepting pre-orders a full day before Sony did.

The result: a mass rush to pre-order the PS5, and plenty of “access denied” messages. Even in instances when shoppers were able to access a site, many experienced glitches in the middle of a transaction, according to The Verge.

Bots may have been partially to blame. Some shoppers may have resorted to “creative” means to repeatedly refresh their screens until the PS5 dropped. Despite all the excitement a product launch can bring, launches can quickly grow sour when online stores aren’t properly prepared.

The Wix fix

Wix flaunts 99.99% uptime. This is made possible by the advanced, resilient technology behind our platform. Your store can run business as usual, no matter the volume or frequency of visitors. With integrations across more than 50 payment providers, you can additionally switch providers at any time depending on your need.

04. Donations and special campaigns

Even a well-intentioned initiative, such as a campaign that’s meant to raise social awareness, could burden your site. That’s why it’s critical to be aware of potential site vulnerabilities prior to participating in ‘cause marketing.’

Aside from spurring tons of new traffic, these types of campaigns can cause a spike in transactions (aka large-sum donations). The last thing you’ll want is for people to grow frustrated by slow-loading pages or other site disruptions as they’re trying to support your cause.

The Wix fix

As mentioned earlier, our autoscale infrastructure allows for limitless scalability. From the moment you launch your store to the moment you hit your first million in sales, Wix keeps your site pages running smoothly.

05. Poorly planned site updates

Every site requires a facelift or maintenance from time to time. But sometimes the smallest coding error, like a typo, can cause your site to crash. If you use an open-source platform that relies on a lot of plugins or extensions, then a change to the main site code could also cause issues (say, for example, your plugins are outdated and no longer work with your code). These are all recipes for disaster if you’re in the middle of a high sales season.

The Wix fix

Wix is “always on.” Meaning, you never have to worry about your site going down for backend maintenance, provisioning, or complicated setup. With that said, if your team is independently planning to redesign parts of your site, it would be wise to save those for slower seasons. You won’t want to be switching up button placements or other custom page settings while shoppers are pouring onto your site.

06. Hackers and malicious attacks

We can’t ignore the fact that the internet is full of bad actors. Many DDoS attacks are automated and prey on sites at random, and most hackers don’t discriminate on the size of your store. In fact, 43% of cyber attacks are directed at small businesses. And for those small businesses, it’s hard to bounce back, especially if customers catch wind of the security breach.

The Wix fix

Every Wix store is double-shielded from DDoS attacks that try to overwhelm your site with bogus traffic. Wix brings the best reliability and website security tech together, ensuring that your data is safe 24/7 and that you never fall victim to vicious hacks.

07. Miscellaneous hiccups

There are a variety of other issues that could crop up: web hosting issues. Server errors. An expired domain. If you use an eCommerce platform, then you may run into platform-imposed limitations, too; some platforms throttle the number of sales that you can receive in a given period, so you may outgrow your plan unexpectedly.

The Wix fix

Wix does not restrict your sales; that’s against our beliefs. No matter which eCommerce plan you have, we believe that you should enjoy all the perks—current and future—that come with running an online store. Our all-in-one infrastructure is designed to save you from wasting time and money on stomping out issues, and eliminate risks that most site owners (read: non-Wix users) face.

Crash-proof your site with Wix today

Preventing a site crash means having a strong and dynamic infrastructure. If you’re wondering, “Aren’t all major site builders pretty much the same?” then you’re not alone. We hear that a lot. However, in reality, there’s notable variance between systems—and even more that happens below the surface to keep your site up and running. At Wix, site reliability is of utmost importance. And while no system can ever be 100% fail-proof, Wix comes pretty darn close.

A summary of Wix benefits

  • Unfazed reliability (99.98% uptime)

  • Autoscale infrastructure

  • Automatic disaster recovery

  • Multi-cloud hosting

  • DDoS protection

  • Zero maintenance and tech skills required

Our holiday load test

We’ll leave you with one last question: are you scared to go viral? With Wix, you don’t have to be. Here’s what happened when we purposefully overloaded a mock site by simulating a holiday sale.

Try the Wix eCommerce platform out for yourself, entirely for free. Start asking yourself “how viral can I get?”

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Allison Lee Editor, Wix eCommerce

Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.

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