Solving Black Friday problems with headless

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    Black Friday might be the most important day for eCommerce shops, but it’s definitely not a stress free day for their owners or for the agency who developed their platform. Stating the obvious, but the increased traffic might cause the website to slow-down or even crash. Both cases will affect the user experience and, by default, the revenues.
    In this article we will take a look at the main technical issues that can arise and how a headless CMS could help you avoid them.

    Illustration depicting an online shop open for Black Friday

    Nobody is untouchable

    You might think that only small businesses with online shops are affected by the traffic spikes on Black Friday, since they probably aren’t prepared for the user overload. In fact, even big retailers had their share of crashes with a high impact on their revenues. In 2019, Costco, Walmart and J. Crew lost a total amount of almost $21 million, due to website downtime.
    In conclusion, it doesn’t matter how big you are. If you are not prepared for the Black Friday traffic, you will get hit. One might even argue, the bigger you are, the harder you will fall.

    It's not just about the traffic

    Yes, the increased traffic is a big part of the problem and it can be a double edged sword. While it generates revenue, it can also cause crashes. There is no easy solution to this. In general terms, the recommendation is to inspect, adapt and test your infrastructure. Easier said than done! With Storyblok you can work with one of major 3 frameworks that are enhancing performance, like high traffic: Nuxt, Next.js or Gatsby.js
    As an example, using a Deferred Static Generation with Gatsby.js to serve content, developers can choose high traffic pages to be served first. The less traffic pages won’t be prepared to be served unless users visit them.

    Aside from traffic, there are several other factors that come into play. Let’s have a look.

    Code errors

    Developers know that a typo has the power to break down the whole code. The go-to solution would be to triple-test everything before deployment and to stay away from free themes and plugins.
    Long term, however, it is best to stay away from monolithic CMSs, and future-proof any project by using a headless CMS. There are no third-party apps or plugins with Storyblok and you can rest assured that it stands the test of performance.

    hint:

    Learn more about the benefits of headless CMS.

    Plugin problems

    Sometimes the problem is not with the code written by your developers, but with the plugins they use. The fact is, that with traditional CMSs, anyone can develop a plugin and upload it with a built-in backdoor. Other times the plugins that are already installed might not receive any updates any more. It would be wise to check all the plugins before Black Friday, but it would be even wiser, to prepare for next year by rethinking the approach.
    Storyblok does use plugins/apps, but we take the safe route and offer 23 native plugins, three of which are integrations for external services. More than that, Storyblok was built with a robust plugins system to give our customers the power to extend Storyblok with custom apps or fields.
    There are three different ways in which you can extend Storyblok: Custom Applications, Field-Type Plugins and Tool Plugins.

    Security

    According to a study done in 2017, cyberattacks happen on average every 39 seconds. To create a strong website infrastructure which can withstand this high number of attacks, is a tall order for any development team.
    One of the most common types of attacks is the Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS).
    The main benefit of traditional CMSs, the out-of-the-box functionality, translates into lots and lots of files, each a vulnerable link in the cyber security chain.
    Two additional weak spots are the login page, the input fields and plugin forms which are vulnerable to SQL injection attacks.

    A site defender can help you with this, but the bullet-proof solution is, once again, the headless CMS. Storyblok is virtually a fortress. We use APIs to provide content that is read-only. Additionally, that API can be placed behind an application and a security layer.
    The content is rendered client-side, reducing the impact of any possible DDoS (distributed denial-of-service attacks).

    Other benefits of headless

    With Storyblok you have the added advantage of implementing an omnichannel strategy which ensures that customers benefit from the same personalized experience and message through each channel and device.
    Through it’s decoupled nature, Storyblok acts as a content repository that can feed the content, via APIs, to any channel and platform.

    Last, but definitely not least, with a headless CMS you have the ability to crucially increase page performance, thanks to its JAMstack architecture. The differentiating factor between a JAMstack site and a website built on traditional website technologies is that JAMstack doesn’t rely on a server, it is pre-built and serverless. Static files are generated and then sent out over a CDN (content distribution network). Server-like functionalities are handled by third-party services, connected via APIs.

    hint:

    Download our ebook on Benefits of headless CMS by project type.

    Key Takeaway

    One of the best products you can “buy” this Black Friday is the concept of headless CMS. For the next year you have the time and possibility to research headless options and to start future-proofing all your eCommerce projects.