Even amidst an economic slowdown, U.S. shoppers still opened their wallets during the two biggest shopping days of the year. According to Adobe, U.S. consumers spent $9.12 billion online shopping this year on Black Friday and $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday – reaching a record high.
At Nylas, we know these peak shopping days are especially crucial for our eCommerce and retail customers. Suppose their systems are underprepared for a surge in traffic and demand. In that case, they risk missing out on thousands — if not millions—in sales, not to mention the potential negative impacts they could face on their overall brand perception.
Technology plays a massive role in the success of a retailer’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday (referred to as “BFCM”) experience. Take Amazon, for example. The company is facing backlash due to an alleged reporting outage that left marketers using its advertising platform unable to view ad performance in real time. The platform’s delays reportedly caused some media buyers to overspend and others to underspend on their campaigns without realizing it.
So, how can businesses prepare for peak seasons and keep their IT infrastructure running smoothly? Here, we’re giving a behind-the-scenes look at how Nylas’ technology and the engineering team behind it support retailers during the world’s busiest shopping days.
Bracing for spikes in traffic with a focus on scalability and reliability
To mitigate slow site speeds and downtime, eCommerce companies and retailers going into peak shopping periods must build a resilient IT infrastructure by ensuring reliability and scalability. At Nylas, we work with many customers to guarantee their IT infrastructure fulfills these requirements.
As Nylas continues to see rapid expansion, it was no surprise that we’d witness another jump in customer usage in 2022, particularly around the busiest time of year for retail and eCommerce customers. In 2021, we saw our number of connected customer accounts and requests per second (RPS) increase exponentially in just six months. While an exciting metric to see from a business perspective, this kind of swift acceleration can cause strain on your system if you’re not prepared.
In preparation for BFCM, we analyzed the limitations of our system and moved to a highly scalable and efficient stack, building the capability to scale horizontally across multiple Kubernetes clusters and regions. We realized that the third-party authentication platforms we were using no longer met our needs as a fast-growing company. To combat this, our engineering team built a customized, highly performant system written in Golang backed by Spanner that could handle our scale and then some.
Another key consideration for our team’s approach to building a custom system was that certain cloud providers were projected to run out of servers during BFCM. Cloud capacity planning is crucial when preparing for high-traffic peaks, so we decided to move forward and scale to aggressive growth scenarios. Because we were well equipped to handle multiple clusters across regions, our system was flexible enough to handle burstable capacities with different instance types in different regions.
Our peak season preparations paid off. During this year’s BFCM, we saw more than a 200% increase in connected customer accounts and a 400% increase in requests per second (RPS). While our team did have robust on-call rotations spanning multiple time zones, Nylas had 0% downtime (and we had 0 sleepless nights spent fixing technical issues).
Leveraging first-party data to improve customer experiences
Not only is BFCM a prime time for retailers and eCommerce businesses to make sales, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to understand buyer preferences and behaviors. With more traffic coming to their sites, businesses have more data to analyze what, why, and how people purchase.
For example, Salesforce found that 78% of sales traffic during this year’s Thanksgiving holiday came from mobile devices. First-party insights like this help the company forecast where and when to strengthen its smartphone user experience.
eCommerce companies and retailers also have an influx of email data from order confirmations that often go untapped. The Nylas Email API and inbox parsing capabilities allow these businesses to:
- Connect to customers’ inboxes, aggregate shipping data across merchants, and sync it directly into their platforms
- Turbocharge applications with personalization tactics
- Get the latest analytics on customer support emails to understand and improve shopper sentiment
This year, we helped one of the world’s leading eCommerce platforms process and leverage data from more than 37 million orders from BFCM — more than a 950% increase from the previous year. The business used this data to better understand its customers’ behaviors and trends, ultimately leading to richer, more personalized customer experiences.
Using the Nylas Email API and features like inbox parsing, our customers also see an increase in their overall customer base (a roughly 10% increase month over month).
Prepare your business for the next high-traffic boom
Holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday allow companies to attract millions of customers through personalized offers and great digital experiences. To better prepare for these high-volume holidays, businesses must ensure that their IT infrastructure can handle millions of transactions and facilitate a truly personalized shopping and post-shopping journey.
Get more information on how Nylas can help your business improve the end-to-end purchase experience during peak shopping seasons like BFCM in our guide, Improving the End-To-End Purchase Experience To Maximize Gross Merchandise Value.