Make sure your eCommerce platform is ready for the high season! Black Friday falls on November 25th this year and continues through Cyber Monday until Christmas. That makes two months of close attention for your Magento infrastructure. And even more if you want to be well prepared.
Start in advance!
If you want to make sure your website runs smoothly and doesn’t experience any downtime, it’s important to start preparing early.
In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips on how to avoid any problems during the high season. We’ll also share our experience in helping clients prepare for Black Friday and increase their sales!
Prepare a good plan for your online store high season
Starting ahead of time and preparing a plan to follow is a must if you want to succeed and not experience any downtime when hungry online shoppers are whirling to hunt for bargains and great deals.
A couple of weeks should be enough for the Magento site IT infrastructure preparations. While stock, sales and advertising plans should be already done and ready to implement and make your business flourish during the holiday season.
Open communication and cooperation
Seamless communication between Marketing and Technical teams is crucial all year round but Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other occasions that generate increased traffic make them especially important.
To avoid bringing traffic and potential customers to non-functioning platforms and wasting marketing budgets when unrealized sales occur, ensure all necessary information about planned promotions on the Magento store is shared with IT specialists.
For example, information about the number of promotional coupons is significant as it allows for the preparation of the eCommerce website for the Black Friday sales. This avoids downtime because of bottlenecks that do not occur with normal performance.
Traffic predictions – how many online buyers do you expect
The increase in high-season traffic is 10 times or even more than normal. When you do not have historical data, it can be difficult to predict precisely the number of customers that will appear as a consequence of digital campaigns and search engine optimisation.
When you have more experience with the holiday seasons, your predictions will be more accurate, allowing you to test server load ahead of time to prepare the infrastructure to support the Black Friday deals.
eCommerce website server load testing
To make sure that the eCommerce website will not be unavailable when huge traffic comes, it is crucial to check whether it can handle the number of requests by running a load test.
It’s important to do this in advance and not wait until the last minute, as it may take some time to fix any problems that are found.
With accurate predictions each year, we are able to test the performance of Magento online stores using JMeter simulations and tests running on Redline 13 and AWS.
We simulate 20-30% bigger traffic than we anticipate in the high season and investigate the needs of the platform. In the end, we are able to find out what server scalability is required to handle the predicted purchase boost.
Magento performance testing
We use a copy of the store with infrastructure scaled on AWS to test Magento’s performance. The process consists of iterations to remove any potential errors that may arise from testing at different sizes and intervals.
Magento developers’ resources optimisation
There is a great benefit coming from regular year-to-year performance testing. We manage to identify and fix problems before they affect the live version of the platform.
This allows us to address and fix problems more efficiently, without wasting too many valuable development resources.
This process allows for identifying:
- The hosting space capacity in order to scale up the server capacity to the appropriate size.
- Bottlenecks that can occur during Black Friday sales.
- Single pints of Failure (SPOF) to fix the shopping infrastructure in advance, before the high season attracts more customers for online shopping.
Servers’ capacity for the Black Friday
By increasing our hosting capacity, we make sure our clients do not lose any sales during their high season. We achieve this by adding more resources to support the traffic peaks.
We also use caching and content delivery networks (CDNs) to improve page load times. As a result, we are able to handle a much highernumber of visitors without any downtime.
Horizontal and vertical scalability
There are two possible ways to scale up the capacity. Vertical scalability means that we add more resources to an existing server.
Horizontal scalability means that we add more servers to the system. Both methods have pros and cons, and it is important to choose the right one for each case.
Which one to choose?
In most cases, horizontal scalability is a better solution because it allows for a more flexible system that can be easily scaled up or down as needed.
It is also a more cost-effective solution in the long run because it does not require as much investment upfront. Vertical scalability, on the other hand, is a good solution for short-term needs as it can be quickly implemented. However, it is more expensive and less flexible in the long run.
Mobile devices eCommerce growing role
Do not forget about mobile traffic! Nowadays, a big part of the traffic is generated by mobile devices, so it is important to make sure that your website is optimised for them.
This can be done by using a responsive design or a separate mobile version of the website. A mobile-friendly Magento platform will increase the conversion rate during Black Friday sales, driving your business in the right direction.
The rapid growth of the Magento store
Hosting is an essential part of Magento’s performance. Close cooperation between developers and hosting companies is crucial.
We work with our clients to help them choose the best hosting solution for their needs. Hosting companies offer a wide range of hosting services that are optimised for Magento.
For some helpful information on Magento AWS hosting please find our blog article about the Rapidly growing Magento store and 16 hosting problems AWS will solve.
Bottlenecks identification in Magento store
Traffic simulation allows you to identify possible problems that are not visible with the regular activity of the store. These may be caused by the hardware and then the server capacity needs to be enlarged.
Other sources of bottlenecks are usually in the software, in which case the code itself should be changed. It is also possible that the shopping process is not well designed and needs to be corrected.
Well-identified problems can be immediately addressed and removed in advance to use the business potential of your website when real users appear.
As we approach the high season, we recommend our clients do a code freeze. This means that no new features or changes should be made to the website during this time.
This is to avoid potential problems that may arise from new code that has not been properly tested. By doing a code freeze, you can be sure that the software will not be affected by potential problems.
Single point of failure (SPOF) in the stores
The situation where the entire store stops working because of one failed component is called a single point of failure (SPOF). The most common SPOFs are:
– an overloaded database server,
– a slow third-party API
– a broken payment gateway
To avoid such problems, it is important to have a well-designed system that can easily handle a large number of visitors.
A good way to do this is to use multiple machines for each component of the system. This will ensure that if one component fails, the others can still work properly. It is also important to monitor the system closely and have a plan for what to do in case of a failure.
Third-party systems breakdown simulation on Magento stores
Don’t forget about third-party systems! During Black Friday, the eCommerce platform is not the only one which is affected by increased traffic. The systems it communicates with are also influenced.
That’s why it’s necessary to take into account possible problems with external services like ERP or payments when preparing for the high season.
One way to do this is to simulate a breakdown of the third-party system and see how the Magento store behaves in such a situation. This will allow you to identify any potential problems and fix them before they occur.
Monitoring tools for the Magento site
Customers’ action simulating is one side of the Black Friday preparations. The other one is monitoring tools enabling us to find the problems before they make consumers frustrated.
Tools such as New Relic or Blackfire allow us to identify problems early enough to make corrections and protect the store from lost sales.
It is important to verify individual site elements, e.g. homepage, categories, product pages, checkout, shopping cart, instant search, live chat service and all Magento extensions, to create a smooth customer journey enabling your clients to take advantage of seasonal deals.
Reliability and trust-building attitude
Typically, you start preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday by creating a great offer and securing enough stock with an advanced warehouse management tool to provide customers with the goods they are looking for.
And then you spread marketing content in seasonal campaigns, google shopping or email marketing to also attract as many consumers as possible by search engine optimisation to obtain maximum search results.
All this heavy and lengthy preparation is meaningless if your Magento platform is not working properly to satisfy your clients.
Website performance as your business goal
The fact is that shoppers expect your site to have fast loading times and be secure (SSL certificate) as they share their personal data to make purchases.
These are two areas that people pay attention to, in addition to discounts, of course. And you also need to pay more attention to them if you want to increase your eCommerce conversion rates.
To achieve these goals, you need to have a reliable IT partner who will respond to your needs and educate you on effective solutions apt for your individual situation.
In this way, you won’t be forced to compete in the market with discounts alone but will be able to take advantage of the competition with unique technical solutions that optimize your business processes and budgets.
By following these tips, you can avoid downtime and increase sales on Black Friday. If you need any help with preparing your Magento store for the high season, our team of Magento experts is always ready to assist you. Contact us today to find out more!