No‚ say South African online retailers‚ who claim they are ready to fend off system overloads and crashes when thousands of shoppers look for bargains on November 24. Last year shoppers using Takealot.com ran into problems in the checkout process. This year‚ the online retail giant says it has prepared for five times the average payday traffic.
“Our checkout process ran into problems on last year’s Black Friday because the banks’ payment gateway fell over from the surge of online shoppers across the country. The combination of all the retailers running Black Friday sales meant that they simply couldn’t handle the volume of transactions – and we believe we’ve done everything we can to mitigate these challenges this year‚” said Takealot.com chief marketing officer Julie-Anne Walsh.
Fashion retailer Zando.co.za has implemented a “feature freeze” to tackle possible glitches. “We have spent the last few weeks in the lead up to Black Friday preparing our systems which entailed a ‘feature freeze’‚ meaning we have not developed or deployed any new features but instead spent the time on scaling and creating a robust website that will ensure we manage the increased load of Black Friday‚” said Zando.co.za managing director Grant Brown.
Spree’s Black Friday traffic and order volumes have grown by 100% per annum over the last four years. Last year it was one of the few e-commerce sites that did not fall over under the visitor load. “We plan well ahead to ensure that our infrastructure and platforms are able to handle the massive growth and the high peak of concurrent visitors. We have invested a significant amount of time and effort in upgrading and optimising our server capacity and our development team has focused on optimising key areas in the platform codebase‚” said Spree chief information officer Jonathan Muir.
The fashion retailer’s main concern for this Black Friday is the banks’ ability to process the onslaught of credit card payments. “But we have a few contingencies in place to mitigate that risk‚” Muir said. South Africa’s only digital credit product for online shopping‚ Mobicred‚ says its system was built to specifically cater for increased traffic.
Online retailer Takealot says that its 2017 Black Friday sale will be the biggest its ever had, with almost every product category on the site expected to host sales. According to CEO, Kim Reid, over 15,000 products will be discounted starting on 24 November, with the majority seeing up 60% off the normal price tag, and some prices going as low as 70% and 80% off. The retailer has dubbed its Black Friday weekend sale as the Blue Dot Sale, which will run for five days: from Black Friday on 24 November, through the weekend to Cyber Monday on 27 November. The retailer said it will then follow up with Takealot Tuesday on the 28th. Noting a big rise in the number of mobile users, Reid said that Takealot would start with Black Friday deals earlier – from 20 November – with app-only exclusive deals.
Despite the struggling economy, and the tough year seen in 2017, Reid said that the company has not seen much of a slowdown during the year, and is only expecting volumes to increase over Black Friday and into the festive period. The group said it expects volumes to increase by 50% compared to 2016, where sales reached R56 million. Black Friday has seen enormous growth in popularity in SA – 2016’s sales were up from R17 million in 2015, and way up from R1 million in sales in 2011 when it held its first Black Friday sale, it said.
According to Reid, technology products, fragrances and toys traditionally perform well on Black Friday, but the retailer is anticipating a spike across all categories. In 2016, Takealot experienced some technical issues with the site being overloaded by eager shoppers, and transactions failing due to payment gateways (especially 3D Secure) buckling under the unprecedented transaction volumes. South Africa’s banks have already said that they have been upgrading infrastructure, and have technical teams on standby to handle the expected spike. Takealot, meanwhile, says it is preparing for five times the traffic seen on a typical payday.
“Our checkout process ran into problems on last year’s Black Friday because the banks’ payment gateway fell over from the surge of online shoppers across the country. The combination of all the retailers running Black Friday sales meant that they simply couldn’t handle the volume of transactions,” Reid said. For 2017, he said that the company is continuously making changes to its systems and processes to ensure it doesn’t leave customers disappointed.