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No blackout on Black Friday‚ say retailers

Image: 123RF/Dmitriy Shironosov

Will the "glitch" steal Christmas for online shoppers this Black Friday?

No‚ say South African online retailers‚ who claim they are ready to fend off system overloads and crashes when thousands of shoppers look for bargains on November 24.

Last year shoppers using Takealot.com ran into problems in the checkout process.

This year‚ the online retail giant says it has prepared for five times the average payday traffic.

"Our checkout process ran into problems on last year's Black Friday because the banks' payment gateway fell over from the surge of online shoppers across the country. The combination of all the retailers running Black Friday sales meant that they simply couldn't handle the volume of transactions - and we believe we've done everything we can to mitigate these challenges this year‚" said Takealot.com chief marketing officer Julie-Anne Walsh.

Fashion retailer Zando.co.za has implemented a "feature freeze" to tackle possible glitches.

"We have spent the last few weeks in the lead up to Black Friday preparing our systems which entailed a 'feature freeze'‚ meaning we have not developed or deployed any new features but instead spent the time on scaling and creating a robust website that will ensure we manage the increased load of Black Friday‚" said Zando.co.za managing director Grant Brown.

Spree's Black Friday traffic and order volumes have grown by 100% per annum over the last four years.

Last year it was one of the few e-commerce sites that did not fall over under the visitor load.

"We plan well ahead to ensure that our infrastructure and platforms are able to handle the massive growth and the high peak of concurrent visitors. We have invested a significant amount of time and effort in upgrading and optimising our server capacity and our development team has focused on optimising key areas in the platform codebase‚" said Spree chief information officer Jonathan Muir.

The fashion retailer's main concern for this Black Friday is the banks' ability to process the onslaught of credit card payments.

"But we have a few contingencies in place to mitigate that risk‚" Muir said.

South Africa's only digital credit product for online shopping‚ Mobicred‚ says its system was built to specifically cater for increased traffic.

"Although last year there were many merchant sites that crashed‚ we have designed our systems to handle large volumes. We also have 24-hour support‚ should we fall over. Our tech partners deal with very large institutions‚ so we're comfortable with expected volumes‚" founder Jason Sive said.

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