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Make your life easier, and your site busier with a Black Friday Playbook

A sales peak should be the best and most exciting time for your business, and for your IT teams who support it. To make that true for you, you need a structured playbook to get the most out of Black Friday.

I think most of us in IT would admit we are slightly scared of peak events. However well a peak may have gone, no-one looks back on it and thinks ‘that was great fun’.

How can you avoid the stress and sleepless nights of guiding an e-commerce site through a Black Friday peak? You need the right procedures in place so that whatever happens, you already have a plan to deal with it. This means preparing and managing a Black Friday playbook.

Having the right playbook, managed in the right way, enables your company to do four things:

  1. Seeing what’s really happening
  2. Knowing why it’s happening
  3. Understanding the risks and opportunities
  4. Deciding what to do about them


1. Seeing what’s really happening

I often see beautiful dashboards full of data but which don’t tell me what I actually need to know. What I need may be hidden in there somewhere but it’s swamped by noise. Your playbook needs to define the data that will enable you to take action.

Work out what you need to see. That takes experience. If you can’t get the data you need, decide how to workaround or fix that. Which data are you going to use for monitoring/alerting/deep-dive analysis? Who is going to monitor it and when?


2. Knowing why it’s happening

I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve been left guessing by the data - why the sudden increase in traffic, has someone sent a marketing email? You need the information to put your data into context.

Your playbook should record the timeline of events that are expected for Black Friday. It should also define communication channels across the business for the sharing of real-time information. If I’m aware of what other teams and departments are doing then I can be confident that I’m interpreting the data I’m seeing correctly.


3. Understanding the risks and opportunities

A peak day only becomes a problem when you don’t understand the implications of your data. When you see traffic increasing and don’t know how long you can handle it. When something breaks and you don’t know why. Your playbook tells you what your data means for your systems.

If you already know where and why things will break you can be ready for them to do that and have a plan in place. And you can also make plans to take advantage of opportunities. If user activity is lower than expected there is an opportunity for marketing to exploit.


4. Deciding what to do about them

Once you know your risks and opportunities, you need defined plans for them in your Black Friday playbook so you know exactly how to respond when they happen. Things can be scaled up, turned off or throttled. Advertising can be increased, decreased or changed to take advantage of the situation.

By planning and proving it before the event, you can be sure that your successful Black Friday won't depend on chance. Watching the peak develop, understanding what’s happening, and executing the plans in place to make the most of your sales peak suddenly becomes fun.


Start now

A Black Friday playbook encapsulates all your planning to provide a single guide to running your Black Friday successfully. It takes time and experience to get it right, so start planning early.

Have a look at how we could work together to make it happen with our Black Friday Assurance Programme.


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