When running an ecommerce website, downtime is the equivalent of locking your doors to the public. Not only are you not doing business, you’re actively pushing your customers into the arms of the competition. There are several failure points you have to research carefully to avoid, including having a good hosting provider and using a reliable CDN to keep your traffic flowing. However, your website is your responsibility and it’s up to you to do the load testing and proactive monitoring required, seeing problems developing early and heading them off before they take you down.
Target, for example, greeted its Black Friday shoppers with a page reading, “So sorry, but high traffic’s causing delays. If you wouldn’t mind holding, we’ll refresh automatically & get things going ASAP.” With a stress test and a concurrency test the site could have been exercised well before the busiest online shopping day of the year and the bottlenecks and inefficiencies could have been eliminated. Instead of a ‘Please come back’, Target could have brought out their ‘Welcome’ sign and let their customers in.
Best Buy had their share of problems in 2014, when their website experienced problems through Black Friday and into the following Saturday. Instead of facilitating online business, their website failed because, according to a company statement, “BestBuy.com has experienced record levels of website traffic. This has affected site performance and we have temporarily taken the site down in response. We are taking measures to restore full performance of the site as quickly as possible.” They, too, could have avoided this with a scalability test that would have let them know well in advance when they would reach the breaking point of their website.
It’s not just downtime that can torpedo an otherwise irresistible website. This is a world full of different browsers and an assortment of mobile devices with different operating systems and each needs to be catered to if a website is going to be successful. Creating a set of tests that emulate desktop devices and mobile devices along with tests that emulate all of the popular web browsers can ferret out problems that might not otherwise be found. Overlooking those tests might allow launch of a website that works fine on your iPhone but is terrible on your Galaxy S6. Chrome users may see a poorly-rendered page while Firefox users are delighted with the site. Test against all device types and your site will be stable and well-rendered regardless of the device used to get there.
Ecommerce has become a key part of every business. Whether a business sells its goods or services over the internet or it simply advertises there, having a website with spotty performance, or one that crashes due to overwhelming demand will ensure loss of sales and prestige. Prestige can be recouped, but lost sales can never be regained. Website testing for flash crowds, sustained traffic and various device types can help the knowledgeable merchant keep his web presence up and servicing his clientele.
Are you interested if your website can handle to holiday load this season? Find out now