For any major production, whether it be theatre, a musical concert or a wedding, a ‘dress rehearsal’ is important to make sure things run smoothly on the big day. It’s the ideal way to put everyone through the paces and deal with any possible problems or hiccups.

Performance testing your retail website by putting it through a technical dress rehearsal, before high traffic campaigns, including Black Friday, is no different.

Black Friday, one of the biggest retail sale dates on the calendar, is just 2+ months away – stock is being brought in and marketing campaigns are planned. RunwaySale is going one step further to test its computer system capabilities and ensure that everything is ready for the thousands of online shoppers, by hosting a ‘dress’ rehearsal, in the form of a Secret Sale, during September.

“We’ve increased our server infrastructure 4-fold over the past few months,” says CEO Karl Hammerschmidt. “In addition, we’ve been co-ordinating with a team spread across four continents to continue to test the site, by throwing as much at it as they can to sort out any problems.

“It has been, and still is, a mammoth project but considering the growth of online sales on Black Friday, plus more traffic around campaigns such as X-mas in July and DASH clearance sales, we have to be totally prepared.

“That’s why we have decided to do this thorough testing in September, to ensure a seamless experience. It means that we can try to prevent bottlenecks and identify any potential application issues.”

The Secret Sale, conceptualised five years is designed to increase traffic. It’s a limited sale of designer items, shown in silhouette, priced from as little as R5.

“Customers simply select the product, in their size and see their purchase for the first time when it is delivered to their door. Each customer is limited to three items,” explains Hammerschmidt. “It is a fun and exciting pop-up sale.”

He says previous Secret Sales increased online traffic 10-fold with 3 000 units sold within five minutes five minutes. “It’s an ideal precursor to the upcoming high traffic season.

“Buying online has its perks,” says Hammerschmidt. “Customers don’t have to queue at one of the 1 950 overflowing shopping centres or struggle to find parking.

“However, it does have its technical challenges as was seen last year when loads of sites crashed and customers were left frustrated and disappointed.

“Even though we were fortunate enough not to have experienced any problems, we want to be 100% confident in customer satisfaction. We need to be prepared for the high volumes of traffic to our site at all times but especially on and around 23 November.

“According to Salesforce, 42% of Black Friday orders in 2017 were placed on a smartphone with only 49% from a desktop or laptop computer,” Hammerschmidt adds. “This reinforces the fact that mobile shopping is on a growth trajectory. Consumers now shop wherever they are, 24/7.

“With the incredible bargains offered on the Secret Sale and Black Friday, we need to anticipate dealing with and processing thousands of transactions efficiently and quickly. We cannot take anything for granted; everyone needs to be on standby – starting with this rigorous test.”