BlogE-CommercePrepare Your Online Store for High-Traffic Seasons

Prepare Your Online Store for High-Traffic Seasons

Every busy season, from Black Friday to the year end holidays to Navaratri, Diwali and other three-day weekends throu­ghout the year, customers bring an influx of sales — and heavy traffic — to e-commerce stores.

Based on our years of experience in e-commerce, and looking at the trends, I’ve discovered a few important steps all e-commerce site owners should take care of to prepare for these busy seasons. These tips are useful for maintaining your customers’ trust and confidence and inspiring them to become recurring customers.

5 Tips To Prepare for Peak Web Traffic

All websites strive to have high levels of traffic on their sites, whether during peak seasons or on a regular Tuesday. Not being prepared can negatively affect your business. Online shopping and e-commerce have become so common that customers rarely notice how seamless the experience can be. The consequence is that less-than-perfect performance stands out and can transform a customer’s experience into a bad one in a matter of seconds.

1. Ensure Your Site Loads Quickly

53% of visitors will abandon a site if it fails to load in less than three seconds. And because of that delay, they may shop elsewhere next time. This might seem like a minor problem, but it has a huge impact when every customer visiting your site has the same experience, especially during a busy time. A site making billions of dollars a day could potentially lose a few million a year due to a one-second page delay, but when we scale these numbers in business profit and loss, they’re still really shocking. Make sure you optimize Magento for speed to avoid this.

2. Develop a Plan

A slow-loading site, unresponsive pages, database problems and even complete website downtime can all result from a lack of planning. Peak traffic is something that can at times be hard to predict — so you need to get serious about being prepared. Here are a few strategies to help flesh out your plan:

Learn your web traffic patterns so you can define what a spike looks like. Prepare for traffic a digital marketing campaign might bring in — ensure these are scheduled in advance.

  • Discuss with your hosting provider and server to ensure a highly scalable architecture.
  • Use a content delivery network, as these help distribute traffic and also help in denial of service attack (DDoS) mitigation services.
  • Ensure your code is optimized. Check reports like New Relic and Site-Wide Analysis Tool, which help you identify the real cause of slowness, rather than just relying on a server for performance.
  • Optimize your Magento code with these strategies:
  • Optimize all images
  • Use the best caching mechanism
  • Clean up your scripts
  • Minimize plugin use and choose light-weight extensions if necessary
  • Fix deadlinks and avoid using redirects
  • Keep a “mobile first” approach

3. Implement Testing Strategies

Testing is a key part of managing and planning around your site’s traffic. Of high importance is making a site replica for staging and production. You can use this to verify all performance-related testing in a way that won’t impact live server. Also consider using different testing strategies to ensure a successful site during peak load times, such as Black Box testing, security testing and load and stress testing.

Consider these tools for security and load testing:

The Security Scan Tool enables a developer/website owner to regularly monitor store websites and receive updates for known security risks, malware and out-of-date software. This is a free service available for all implementations and versions of Adobe Commerce on cloud infrastructure.

  • JMeter—Excellent load testing to help gauge performance during a spike in traffic. You can use it to create custom tests to run on your site.
  • Siege—This traffic shaping and testing software will push your store to the limit. Hit your site with a configurable number of simulated clients. Siege supports basic authentication, cookies, HTTP, HTTPS and FTP protocols.
  • WebpageTest and Pingdom—These offer real-time analysis of your site’s page load time coming from different origin locations. Pingdom may require a fee. WebpageTest is a free tool.
  • New Relic—Helps locate processes and areas of the site causing slow performance with tracked time spent per action, like transmitting data, queries and Redis.

4. Upgrade Your Hosting and Scale Up Servers

Shared hosting plans generally won’t work with high amounts of traffic. For that, a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated hosting is recommended. Once you’ve to upgrade your hosting, look for plans with bigger RAM and bandwidth, and don’t forget to pay attention to the average page load speed. Some providers offer pay-as-you-go servers, allowing you to increase the capacity of a server only for a needed period. Check with server providers to keep a regular backup of your website.

5. Provide a Seamless User Experience

Customer service and a great shopping experience are essential during high-traffic times. Provide features like a live chatbot, easy checkout and the best-possible payment method integrations for your customers’ ease of use.

One option is to do a one-page checkout. This will help get customers moving quickly through your site. Follow these tips to set up an optimized check-out page:

  • Avoid asking for redundant information (i.e., for a logged-in user whose address is saved, there should be an option to select their default shipping address).
  • Introduce and increase automation across your whole application (i.e., have easy access to a call center for your customers’ complaints)
  • Keep your warehouse ready with an artificial intelligence/machine learning and internet of things-based system to manage stock and ensure fast delivery of popular goods, without going out of stock.
  • Keep an omnichannel experience across the web to offer customers the smoothest possible experience from every access point (website, app, social media and so on).
  • Ask your SI, technology partner or technical team to keep the development team and support team available 24/7 during these peak times to handle any last-moment chaos and loss of sales. Consider incorporating a ticketing system and helpdesk system so that all customers get timely responses and updates.

Be Prepared for Whatever the Busy Season Throws at You

The key takeaway: don’t wait until an issue happens to resolve it, especially during a busy time. An e-commerce site that’s regularly updated for speed, performance and best practices will perform well any time of year. Even when your site is flooded with eager customers.