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Improve e-commerce performance for Black Friday – Magento Testing

Improve e-commerce performance for Black Friday – Magento Testing

Magento has been the most popular open-source e-commerce platform for many years now. With its huge community of Magento developers, Magento extensions, and Magento themes, it is easy to customize your website with Magento solutions and extensions.

Especially when you are supported by Magento experts that are able to scale up your store and eliminate potential threats preventing your business from revenue loss. 

Panda Group is an Adobe Magento solution partner developing and optimizing Magento stores. As business partners, we support our clients with performance testing in the high season of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.

We realize very well that the last months of the year are the most profitable for most e-commerce augmenting the sales 10 or even 20 times.

Magento testing for tink.de for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas

In this article, we present how Panda Group has helped tink.de smart system and IoT marketplace for 4 years already – by running performance testing of the Magento e-commerce platform on a regular basis, identifying problems before they cause any real damage to the business during the high traffic period.

Our team of experienced Magento developers has optimized the web page to run smoothly – even during peak seasons like Black Friday or Christmas time when many orders are placed.

tink.de smart system and IoT – Magento scaling up

Panda Group has helped tink.de with Magento development and optimization since 2016 when the company started its activity in Germany to help a small business build its online presence. We have been working with tink.de ever since, helping them improve the e-commerce experience for their users.

As a result, tink.de saw an increase from a start-up in 2016 with 0 to 700 000 customers in 2021 and over 100 employees. As a smart system leader in Germany and the EU, the company received 40M€  growth financing. 

The growing scale of business was a challenge for the owners and they needed robust technical support to prepare the platform to the scale appropriate for the market share it was gaining.

First Black Friday Season in tink.de history

In the beginning, it was the most difficult to predict traffic for the first high period. The company expected some traffic and transaction increase for holiday shopping which was not supposed to burden the platform’s ordinary operation.

When it came to the big day and Black Friday started it was clear from the early morning that the predictions were not precise and the traffic augmented 10 times more than expected. This success was a challenge from a technical point of view.

Rapid reaction group during the peak traffic

All we could do was react to the situation taking place at the highest possible level. Maintaining high-quality service was the best possible solution in these circumstances. 

We arranged a group of fast responding backend developers to keep the store secure and remove bottlenecks on a regular basis.

The group was active 24 hours during the holiday time to recognize page threats, avoid them and support the page all the time to allow sales on the web page and mobile devices on a daily basis.

Black Friday peak crisis overcome strategy

We had to create a strategy to handle the situation and make the eCommerce operate smoothly when shoppers were doing Google or site searching and shopping. The goal was not to let the website go down because of heavy load, speed problems, or data processing numbers. 

Magento e-commerce performance monitoring

Using application performance monitoring tideways.com we could recognize errors and remove them in real-time to enable the platform to operate properly and provide a satisfying user experience on the site when customers were shopping, making searches, or checkout.

eCommerce platform hosting capacity

Huge traffic was quite an effort for the server capability, CPU, RAM was not enough performing. The server overloading affected page load time.

The hosting chosen at the beginning by the client for starting up a  store was rigid and we could not flexibly extend its capacity to improve the store performance.

Lowering the system complexity

To efficiently use the existing rigid server infrastructure we were working all the time on simplifying the searching and shopping process and removing the excessive database requests. 

We have optimized most critical requests related to the:
– add to cart,
– cart render,
– registration,
– checkout process
to handle more customers with the same resources.

First Black Friday conclusion

It was a lesson for us and for the client. This first situation did never happen again. We drew conclusions and made necessary changes to make Black Friday and the whole holiday timeless stressful next year.

Panda Group Best Practices for Performance Testing

We learned much thanks to tink’s first Blak Friday and we now can recommend efficient actions to prepare the Magento e-commerce for the high period. 

The following steps are practised with tink.de and other clients offering more and more efficient tests from year to year and being ready for clients’ eCommerce scaling up.

We are proud that their growth is coming from a stable Magento e-commerce platform ready for all challenges in peak time we are able to predict to keep the store secure.

Magento eCommerce scalable hosting

When cooperating with tink.de initially, we were limited by the hosting constraints, which caused some problems when server demand increased and it was not flexible enough in resource delivery.

Next year, we recommended using a scalable AWS (Amazon Web Service) Cloud hosting to eliminate the lack of flexibility and support running the performance testing requiring at least doubled server size for traffic simulations.

It is a basic technical side of the online store operation enabling the site to perform at the highest level and serve sales, site search, and site loading.

Traffic estimation vs marketing plans

The crucial subject in Black Friday preparations is traffic estimation. It might be difficult at the beginning of the store’s existence like it was with tink, but predictions were much more precise in the following years.

We were informed by the marketing department about planned campaigns in all marketing channels. We could manage the coupons and tracking codes prior to the promotion to avoid bottlenecks when the server needs to deal with a large number of visitors using the code or coupon. 

Implementing this information in the code structure allows unweighting the system when the traffic grows.

Prior to the holiday time performance testing

Testing the website is a must when you operate e-commerce and want to take advantage of the most profitable time in the year. Consider starting testing 1,5 – 2 months before the promotion starts.

This time is long enough for necessary iterations of testing and reparations when errors are discovered. If testing is done regularly the time necessary for the performance testing may be shorter.

The process of performance testing

The process of performance testing consists of iterations with the following stages:

  1. Starting test. 
  2. Errors discovering.
  3. Problem Fix.  
  4. Repeating test.

The stages take place as long as errors occur. When a test reveals no error it is going to be closed. 

Performance testing environment

The performance testing takes place in the copied 1:1 web page of the store on the testing domain, created just for performance testing.  This requires additional space and resources that is why it’s important to manage them reasonably.

At Panda Group we run additional resources for 2-3 hours only in the testing phase, to not spend too much of the budget for the additional server space.

Magento Traffic simulation

Traffic predictions based on so far page visits and the previous year’s high period data, as well as marketing campaigns plans, enable estimating how many users may visit the site, add goods to cart, and finally buy. 

The estimated traffic is simulated with JMeter tests that are run via Redline 13 combined with AWS on the copied store site.

Magento performance testing  dedicated team

A testing team consists of a Quality Assurance tester and a backend developer. A test is created in Apache JMeter and when any errors are discovered the backend developer is fixing them before running repeated testing. Over and over again until the system reveals no performance errors for a given number of orders.

Frozen code for maintaining the security

We usually do not make any changes to the website 2 weeks before Black Friday for security reasons. All development work that is done on the staging environment is not to disturb the original site just before the big day.

APM Application Performance Monitoring 

After performance testing, we still keep our eyes open while the peak traffic comes. The ongoing performance monitoring is taking place. In this case, we use the New Relic app and recommend it after numerous experiences with tink.

The maintenance team is on standby mode  

Just in case anything was wrong and an unexpected error occurred we usually keep the support team ready. The urgent situations appear sometimes and are not connected with our maintenance. 

For example payment methods can not be tested as their operators do not allow them. It may be potentially a bottleneck as it is beyond our testing process. 

However, you should stay calm as payment methods operators usually are well prepared for the high season and rarely collapse. 

Performance testing conclusions

All the above tips and hints come from our practice and are improved every year to achieve our customer’s business goals and make Panda Group a part of their success story. Briefly, recommendations are as follows:

  • Conduct performance testing 1-2 months before high season.
  • Be prepared with additional resources like hosting, servers, and employees.
  • Use performance monitoring tools so you can understand what was happening on the Magento eCommerce platform during the high season, this data may help when preparing for next year.
  • Do not let the Magento e-commerce system load too much data – follow the Magento development recommendation and keep it updated as often as possible.
  • Be ready to react quickly when unexpected emergencies happen.

We would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season! We hope that your business will be successful and flourish with our help if you decide to become our partner and contact us.

We are ready for this challenge and we think Magento is an awesome eCommerce – check with us if it is suitable for your business.

More about Black Friday preparations and testing, please read on our blog:

10 Things to do before Black Friday in your Magento store

Prepare for the Black Friday – performance tests

And here you have a Tink Magento Performance Testing case study.

This article is a part of series: