How to avoid meltdowns this sales season

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Alex Banham
Marketing Executive
We all have one of those stories. The one where the long-loved internet failed just as we were about to make the perfect purchase.

Maybe your favourite band announced their comeback tour and tickets were being posted that afternoon. Or maybe your kids begged you for the latest next-generation console for Christmas, which was dropping during a midnight promotion.

No matter the details, you knew what time the sale was going live, you added a reminder to your phone and your payment details were ready to go. You logged on early, waited for the site to go live. And, as soon as it was time, you refreshed the webpage.


You refreshed again.


It’s a disappointing, crushing experience, and the next time you see a sale on that same platform you might decide it’s not worth it. Maybe you even start looking at other ecommerce sites to see if you have a better chance with them. Maybe their site is more dependable.


The effects of unstable commerce experiences

When YouTube stars Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson announced their make-up collaboration Conspiracy in 2019, the effects of unstable ecommerce experiences for both consumer and supplier were captured in real time. When customers couldn’t access the sales page, their frustrations were aired on social media.

Those who were lucky enough to make it through to the online storefront complained that basket glitches wouldn’t let them check out with their products. Footage uploaded to Dawson’s YouTube channel showed developers rushing to bring the site back up while Star’s frustration as the brand’s owner grew. By the time the site was stable, most fans were greeted with the dreaded ‘Sold Out’ label on the products they’d patiently waited for.

In these moments of stagnation and stalling, customers aren’t the only ones left frustrated. For businesses, traffic peaks crashing pages during large-scale promotions leads to a loss of revenue, stressed employees, and diminished customer loyalty. (Case in point, it’s estimated that Walmart lost over $9m in sales when their website went down for 150 minutes back in 2018.)

So how can you overcome the challenges and obstacles in the way of launching pain-free large-scale promotions? Even though holiday shopping and Black Friday have previously been marked as high-traffic peak promotions, companies should think strategically about the relationship between content and commerce on a daily basis, not only in the “high season.” Contentful helps with this.


A surgical approach to content management

Brands that weave content into their ecommerce experiences with headless API-first content platform Contentful adopt a structured approach to content management. In this approach, text and visual assets are segmented into content modules and then mixed and matched to build and launch digital experiences on any number of platforms. With structured content you can create content once and use it endlessly.

For example, if your products are being distributed via multiple channels for customers, it’s important to consider the organisation of content to enable omnichannel selling at scale. Using a tool like Contentful’s Launch app allows you to orchestrate product releases to ensure relevant content is published at the same time. Launch creates a clear, organised workflow, helping ensure that the content in it makes its way to the right channels and has all the right eyes on it before then.

If you have channel-specific content, the Launch app is flexible enough to allow you to curate channel-specific content. Working with structured content means you can easily inject it into a workflow and then group and release it together. This results in a less stressful experience for everyone involved.


The three main advantages of using Contentful's unifying tools and technology ecosystem

1) Governance and quality assurance

There are some major governance and quality assurance advantages to using content as the source of truth. All your sensitive product data, customer data and payment data can be integrated in Contentful. Then, it can be funnelled down, built into approval workflows, and shared with content admins. Roles, responsibilities and tags help give the right team members access while mitigating risk.

2) A single solution to manage content

Contentful is a single hub for integrated editorial content to include content design and workflows and fully integrate with all other workflow supporting tools. The platform’s App Framework streamlines the process by offering a library of leading ready-to-connect tools concentrated in the following areas: analytics, collaboration, delivery, digital asset management, marketing, personalisation, search and more. This framework also makes it possible to build custom apps in the platform.

3) Ability to scale

Contentful’s delivery infrastructure is scalable, meaning that your digital products can handle promotional surges or other major traffic peaks. Contentful’s Content Delivery API and reliable content delivery network support brands as they scale to new global markets and launch innovative products.


A flexible approach to manage content and commerce

As customers demand a seamless experience across all digital channels, ecommerce brands need to evolve their experience beyond just websites and apps. They must adopt frameworks and technologies that enable them to meet customers on their channel of choice, be that via wearable technology, in-store point of sale or voice-controlled devices.

To manage modern omnichannel content distribution at scale, many businesses are looking to take a microservice approach to their technical architecture and build ecosystems of best-of-breed tools. One of the leading and fastest-growing headless ecommerce platforms on the market is fellow MACH Alliance partner, BigCommerce.

To help businesses navigate omnichannel selling, Contentful and BigCommerce partner Candyspace have built the BigCommerce app. The app seamlessly connects product information from BigCommerce with content in Contentful, enabling businesses to rapidly drive online revenue by connecting their customers to their products more efficiently and cost effectively.

The connector is available to download via the Contentful App Marketplace.


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