Black Friday in South Africa has grown from a whisper to a shout, with many big brands promising great deals – online and off. On what is increasingly becoming the biggest online retail day of the year, zero downtime is essential, yet high volumes of web traffic over this period can cause servers to crash or payment portals to freeze. At Hetzner, it’s business as usual as we consider every day a Black Friday.

On Friday, 23rd November 2018 – as on any other day of the year – downtime and service disruption wasn’t an option. Many Hetzner customers choose to host on shared servers, together with other website owners. During busy retail periods, a website on a shared server could experience higher traffic volumes and thus disrupt the uptime of other websites on that server. Knowing this, our team was well prepared for the busiest e-commerce weekend of the year: ready and able to divert or re-allocate resources as needed, to ensure zero disruption across the network.

Supported and well managed

Essentially Natural, an online retailer specialising in all-natural beauty, grooming and wellness products, had this problem before moving to a Managed Server with Hetzner. “Our website means everything to our business,” says Vicki Berry, co-owner. “A few years ago we moved to a dedicated server at Hetzner because our website had been very slow during a high-traffic period. We have never had any problems with Hetzner: the support is 24/7 and excellent, and the volume of traffic is managed well. I feel supported all the time.”

“Online retailers rely heavily on hosting services,” she adds. “With Hetzner I can rest easy knowing my website will not crash, and the increased traffic won’t be a problem.”

Zero down time

OneDayOnly, a Hetzner customer since 2012, ran a multi-platform Black Friday promotion which started at 0h00 on Friday, 23rd November. What set their campaign apart was that they ran 100% off deals on Twitter (yes, 100% off -- that is not a typo). This funnelled concentrated bursts of traffic to their website as customers tried to be one of the lucky ones to grab a 100% off deal. With record-breaking checkouts compared to previous years, OneDayOnly sailed through Black Friday without a glitch.

This is the kind of service the e-commerce store expects from Hetzner. “Our website is our company,” explains Stefan Coetzer, IT Manager. “So we chose our hosting partner carefully. We’ve been with Hetzner from the start, and we have no intention of leaving.”

24/7 support

It’s not just big brands who need to be aware of the increased pressure on servers during busy retail periods. 4Home, an online store offering everything you need for your home, chose Hetzner specifically for this 24/7 support. They offered discounts on all their products from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, sitewide, without any issues.

Customer experience

This reliability is one of the reasons Outdoorphoto, an online photography shop and hub for all things photographic, chose Hetzner in 2011. We were looking for a reputed host that offers superb assistance, technical advice and emergency help that keeps our online shop up 24/7,” explains Marketing Manager Graham van der Merwe. “For Black Friday, we offered up to 50% discount on top international photo and video gear brands like Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm and DJI. We had zero hiccups and zero downtime: our average page load time during the busiest period was 3.54 seconds,” he reports.

“What sets Outdoorphoto apart is that we deliver a premium sales service with expert consultants and customer experience that strives to delight– no matter what day of the year it is,” he explains. “Hetzner helped us deliver on that promise during Black Friday.”

Stable hosting

Faithful to Nature, South Africa’s largest online eco-store with over 11 000 trusted organic, natural and eco-friendly products, anticipated a 30% to 40% increase in sales this year -- compared to Black Friday 2017. “As an online business, a stable hosting partner is vitally important,” explains Warren LaRey, the Chief Marketing Officer. “That’s why we decided to partner with Hetzner in 2013 – so we have the peace of mind that we are supported.” Their specials this year included up to 50% off some of their most popular brands. “To create some good out of this mass consumer time, we donated a portion of all sales from the week to the Endangered Wildlife Fund, to assist in their animal conservation efforts,” he adds.

Now that the dust has settled on Black Friday 2018, these e-commerce stores can look forward to the festive season increase in sales.

Image credit: Justin Lim