The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

The one thing every top 10 retailer is doing (again) this holiday season

Holiday readiness: The one thing every top 10 retailer is doing (again) this year

At SOASTA, the top 10 online retailers all use our performance testing solutions. Here’s what they all have in common:

They all do a full-scale pre-holiday dress rehearsal of web and mobile users on their production infrastructure.

Today I’m going to tell you why and how they do it, and how you can catch up.

This October, industry-leading retail and ecommerce businesses from Amazon to Walmart will lock down their online systems. They’ll be bracing for 15% more holiday shoppers this year than last, and this time more than half of those shoppers will be mobile users.

To know their limits, these retailers are conducting end-to-end online dress rehearsals during the next two months. These full-capacity dry runs scale beyond the most optimistic holiday user levels and verify real production infrastructure.

If you’re not doing this, your team may simply not know how.

In the past few years, the methodology, technology, and expertise to run true production-scale tests have matured. However, many teams don’t have the experience to take advantage of these newer, more rigorous testing approaches.

You need to get on the end-to-end testing bandwagon. Here’s why…

Every one of these online dress rehearsals finds undiscovered production issues that could result in revenue-sapping slowdowns or total outages at the most critical times of the year.

Top web performance issues during the holidays

How to do it: Know your users and tap the cloud

1. Collect real user behavior and marketing analytics

Assess those user scenarios that represent your most critical conversion paths. Then determine behavior and peak traffic volume baselines by analyzing last year’s results and combining current real user activity.

2. Utilize distributed traffic generators that simulate your users’ diverse locations

Cloud computing is well established, trustworthy, and introduces millions of low-cost, instantly accessible servers across the globe that can help you. If your team has not leveraged the cloud to run tests using external user load, it’s not too late to start.

3. Be ready to analyze a LOT of performance data, quickly

This is the biggest challenge. Monitoring every component in your system during the test can be daunting. Employ methods to collect, view, and quickly dig into the issues that arise during these validation sessions. A huge benefit here is the ability to view all monitored data as it is collected, not later, so teams can take real-time action. (At SOASTA, we do this with in-memory processing that puts performance analytics from the front-end session information to the deepest database into actionable context, during the test.)

What to do before your 2015 lockdown? Get an outside view.

In the rush to get everything done, it’s easy for internal teams to lose the forest in the trees. This is why it’s helpful to spend time with a production-scale expert who has an outsider’s perspective to evaluate your large-scale, end-to-end testing plan.

Who can help? SOASTA can, for one.

We invented cloud testing in 2008, and customers soon found our analytics technology and distributed scale made our platform the best option for production scale analytics. Our Performance Engineers employ proven methodologies for cloud-based production testing.

For the months of September and October, we’re offering FREE evaluations to help with your online retail performance strategy. These evaluations include:

  • Time with a SOASTA Performance Architect or Engineer to evaluate your current approach
  • A complimentary CloudTest of your customer-facing property to show how you can performance test within the cloud
  • Expert guidance to improve your current performance testing and analytics strategy

Not ready to commit just yet? Check out our free webinar: Five Last-Minute Tips for Holiday Site Confidence

Be ready.

Whether you choose to talk to SOASTA or another expert, full-scale performance testing on your production infrastructure is a must-do for 2015.

Holiday readiness - website performance monitoring

Amy Vosters

About the Author

Amy Vosters

Amy is the Marketing Manager at SOASTA, where she specializes in content marketing, growth-hacking, wordsmithing, and go to market strategies. She is fascinated with the correlation between web performance, neuroscience, and how this translates into success for modern digital businesses.

Follow @AmyatSOASTA