Virtual Queue to Set Up Your Web Shop for Success During Peak Season: 8 Things to Consider

The end of the year proves to be a hectic season for retailers. Holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas arrive one after the other, with people rushing to shop for their family and friends. It is important to be ready for that and provide a seamless online shopping experience for the consumers. Virtual queues is one of the effective means to do this.
5 min read
By Thomas Williams
Business Development Manager
Virtual Queue to Set Up Your Web Shop for Success During Peak Season: 8 Things to Consider

Online supermarkets go to great lengths to prepare their systems for high-load periods like these. Nevertheless, such an increased demand might still strain the systems of retailers, leading their websites and online resources to shut down.  As a result, customers can not even place orders!

In this situation, it is always necessary to react with lightning speed; otherwise, there is a huge risk of losing the loyalty of customers, revenue, and reputation. There are several ways to keep the system sustainable during peak days, and we would like to share some practical advice for a high demand season.

Virtual queue is one of the tools that can help manage excessive web traffic and cease the system payload when it jumps 60-80% above the average.

It can function as a gateway — it can regulate the flow of requests from users and make the gateway as wide as the system can handle. Adding a virtual queue to the site significantly reduces the number of incidents and keeps the system functional even during peak periods.

Correct prioritization of orders and redistributing customer requests in accordance with certain rules can help handle surges in user activity. The queue makes it possible to log in and forward the person to the corresponding queue, be it a priority or an ordinary one. For different segments of customers, different queue settings can be set. Priority slots can be reserved for people most in need of your products like your loyal customers, or veterans and the disabled.

How Virtual Queue Can Help: A Case Study

The implementation of a virtual queue into the system of one of our clients became a lifeline during one of the latest peak seasons. Our goal was to ensure the integration of a third-party virtual queue service with the client's current system, develop the correct logic and requirements for configuring this queue, optimize all processes and, most importantly, do it as soon as possible.

The DataArt team integrated a virtual queue service into the client’s monolithic system in less than two days. Since the system was complex, changes to a single element would affect other parts. To minimize risks and immediately respond to possible changes in the operation of the system, there was a crisis-solving team from client’s side and from DataArt. Incident reviews took place every day; all participants analyzed what happened and why, and suggested ways to improve the situation. For better situational awareness, we also created a transparent communication system. All changes were logged so that everyone could understand what was happening and where at any point of time.

Alongside with implementing the virtual queue features, we also concentrated on purely technical improvements. To further support the situation and meet business needs, we optimized the system so that the web shop could process more checkouts.

We put a lot of effort into the implementation of the new functionality, ensuring that the system could serve the maximum possible number of customers. It took some time for the system to cope with an increase in the number of orders, so the work was carried out in stages. On each stage, an extra-functionality was added to the system, slowly increasing the number of customer requests the platform could cope with. Now the client’s system can successfully handle more orders and is scalable enough for similar situations in the future.

Eight Things to Consider While Adding a Virtual Queue

  1. Prioritize your audience. Use different queue settings for different customer segments.
  2. Make sure that configuration of webservers does not allow accepting more requests than it can process. Find the right configuration to prevent such situations in future.
  3. Remember that multiple applications will make requests to your database. Do not just focus on your application alone. In other words, looking only at one small part of the system does not give you an understanding of how the system will behave as a whole.
  4. Having a test environment to test the whole system in (even if it is scaled down) is important. It lets one see how the whole system, when all the components are activated, behaves.
  5. If you test your app in isolation, it will not tell you how the platform will behave in real environment (unless you have an appropriate and close to the maximum theoretical workload environment to test in). In test environment and in production, hit different bottlenecks, since the number of servers in testing and production may differ.
  6. Introduce technical improvements to your back-end systems in parallel to adding a virtual queue. Work over early detection of problems by monitoring, identifying, and preventing them - if a web system fails, it affects the whole ecosystem.
  7. Create a transparent communication system. Make sure all changes made are logged and everyone can see the status at any point of time.
  8. Close cooperation and mutual understanding of the problem and business goals by both the vendor and the client are key. Building the right communication with all the stakeholders, accurate analysis of the situation, subject and business expertise, and full transparency will help you succeed. Having the right partner who treats your business with care and has broad capabilities, you can easily overcome the most difficult challenges.

DataArt has helped many retailers to cope with surges in traffic during pandemic and peak seasons. Our solutions helped our clients not only keep their business and their consumers but also surpass their competitors. We understand the unique challenges your business might be facing now, and we will look forward to complementing your organization with our support, oversight, and advisory.

Reach out if you want to know more about working with DataArt!

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