Ready for takeoff, when your customers arrive

Posted by Pixafy Team


The holiday season is approaching once again, a critical time for retailers of all stripes.  Given our strength in eCommerce in general and Magento specifically, we’re no stranger to the importance of the season for online retailers.  It’s a prime opportunity to boost sales and gain traction at a time when customers are looking for something unique or different to give as a gift.

A recent vacation to New Mexico brought some of this to mind.  I had the opportunity to attend a session of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest hot air balloon festival in the world, drawing hundreds of balloons and hundreds of thousands of attendees.  The event takes place over 9 days each year, and the perfect marriage of planning and execution (plus good luck in the way of nice weather) is critical to the event’s success.

The session I attended was the Balloon Glow, an evening event that, as the sun sets, balloons are inflated and ultimately fired, to create a glow of balloons across the field. Teams worked to get balloons ready in time, and then, via a bunch of walkie talkies, did some synchronized firing that led to some pretty spectacular light shows amongst the balloons.

Crowd management is particularly key; as it happens, they made some critical decisions that greatly reduce the impact.  One major one is to have events scheduled, day and night, over a 9-day period of time.  This spreads the crowds out somewhat, although weekends will still be busier.  More key, they implemented park-and-ride lots that allow a percentage of attendees to take shuttle buses to and from the park. After the balloon glow ended, and fireworks show completed, there was a mass exodus of tens of thousands of people. But the shuttle buses were able to disperse the crowd outward, reducing the number of people who had to exit the park directly via their cars. Long lines were managed with speedy loading of the shuttles.

It’s not hard to draw parallels to the tech world.  Crowd management is equally important for hosting a site in particular.  One key decision Pixafy made is to launch our in-house hosting platform, which allows us to control not just the quality of the site build for our clients, but the quality of the hosting.

We can help clients make key decisions on how to do our own version of crowd management and dispersal, whether it be spinning up additional server capacity or using CDN technology to spread the work out for static content such as images and script files. We can work with clients to harden sites for specific types of traffic at key times, or find creative ways of spreading out the traffic, such as doing staggered launches of campaigns.  We have various caching technologies we employ, based on the site’s size and expected traffic, that can increase the site’s resiliency during high-traffic periods. We work with each client and their budgetary constraints to find the best solutions we can, to maximize the chances of success.

Preparation is key, as is execution.  Making the right decisions, and investments, can be the difference between a banner season and a major catastrophe.  Pixafy offers many tools to help our clients, no matter how large or small, weather the season.

Need help getting your site ready for the holiday shopping season? Drop us a line!