Look at any footage of Black Friday pre-2020 (particularly in the US) and it may seem more like an extreme sport than shopping. From eager customers lining up in frigid temperatures in the middle of the night to actual stampedes of people that can result in broken bones, Black Friday shoppers are willing to undergo such hardships for one sole reason: To snag an awesome deal. Yet as with most things, COVID-19 came into the picture and said “Nope.”

Like every subject in the year 2020, we have to consider how COVID-19 has affected it. And the same goes with Black Friday. Globally known as a day of shopping chaos, Black Friday is marked by fervent customers filling shopping centers to capacity for deeply discounted items offered by almost every store. But due to pandemic-inspired hygiene and social distancing regulations, crowds this time around were significantly thinned out and none of the usual Black Friday shenanigans were observed. Instead, this year’s Black Friday shopping moved from brick and mortar stores to the digital realm, with companies shifting their sales to their online stores. 

This meant the usual throngs of shoppers hit the internet instead, resulting in unprecedented traffic spikes coming through to online shops, beginning on November 27 and lasting the entirety of cyber week. According to one source, brick and mortar sales dropped by 52 percent while online spending made records by jumping 22 percent. But despite these changes, companies using the commercetools platform have been well-equipped to survive both the differences in ways customers now shop due to the pandemic, as well as the massive Black Friday and Cyber Monday traffic influx. So how did commercetools facilitate such a success for our customers?  

A HUGE triumph for our customers

Our customers’ achievement in terms of revenue increase was colossal; they experienced a gain of over 100 percent in the revenue they generated in 2020 versus 2019. But this success was not unexpected. Companies that had already integrated modern commerce platforms like commercetools were prepped to win. They had the tools to respond to whatever hiccups Black Friday and Cyber Monday threw at them with the agility, flexibility and speed. 

So we would just like to take a minute to bask in the success of our customers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – and we are thrilled that our cutting-edge architecture could help make it possible! In fact, commercetools is so reliable and perfectly scalable for huge traffic influxes, we’re happy (though not surprised) to report that there were no incidents and there was no downtime, translating into a fantastic customer experience all around, as well as no lost revenue. 

 API requests to our platform reached a peak on Black Friday of 1.4 billion, with exponentially more calls for read-only data being served from various caches. In comparison, the average day in November produced 190 million API requests (which in itself is a number higher than a typical day in the year). Yet thanks to commercetools being built to handle such an extraordinary increase in API calls, this upsurge was effortlessly managed.

Numbers don’t lie: 7,000 orders/min. & 10x as much traffic

For our 200 commercetools customers that were taking Black Friday orders, purchases peaked at 7,000 orders per minute, totaling an incredible 3 million orders over the course of the day, and order volume grew over 120%. Industries that saw the biggest spikes in online sales were toy companies such as Lego and Carrera; home interior companies such as Restoration Hardware (RH) or Bolze; and fashion companies such as Carhartt WIP and Express that experienced 10 times as much traffic than usual. 

However, even when some digital retailers ran out of stock, commercetools enabled them to react with agility by directing customers to alternative products made even more appealing with last-minute discounts added on. 

Since March, online shopping has exploded and digital retailers are seeing a massive influx of traffic onto their sites, and on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, these sales blew up. But our commercetools customers were more than ready.  Handling the enormous number of API calls and scaling to high traffic peaks are what commercetools was made for. Unlike legacy commerce platforms which can crash when overloaded with traffic, commercetools can easily cater to masses of customers at all times – without suffering from downtime and other scaling problems.

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