Insight from the Magento Holiday Prep Webinar
Earlier this week Magento hosted a webinar to help retailers optimize their store performance for holiday 2014. The Magento Holiday Prep Webinar was full of great content and if you’re a retailer getting ready for your busiest season, it is well worth a watch. If you missed the webinar you can check out the recording of “Preparing for Holiday Peak Traffic” here.
Given our knowledge about holiday prep (we did write a book after all) I wanted to expand on a few of the items discussed in the webinar.
A CDN can be a great addition to your website – the closer a physical server is to your users, the quicker the content will display – however addressing load times with a CDN alone leaves conversions on the table. We recommend going one step further and using a service that optimizes your site for each user based on device, browser and location. For Example, our Site Optimizer service identifies the performance profile of your shoppers and applies a variety of techniques to optimize your store for their profile, with dramatic effects on load time and conversions.
Regardless of the service you use, protecting your customer experience is crucial to your success, especially during the holidays. To learn more about the metrics you need to consider to optimize your sites conversions check out our Engagement Metrics eBook.
Deciding the number of scenarios to test is largely a budget driven exercise but, at minimum, we would recommend testing the most typical scenarios for each stage of your buyers journey. We also recommend budgeting for multiple tests as often times the first load test will indicate some areas for improvement and you want to make sure you can go back and confirm any changes you made had the intended impact.
As noted in the webinar, testing in production does have risk though our belief is that production tests are the best way to measure how your application and infrastructure will respond to increased load. Working with a managed service provider during the test is key – we wouldn’t recommend running a production load test on your own. But if you have the right partners in place a load test in production will allow you to see how your application and infrastructure are likely to perform under peak load. Work with your vendor to pick a time when your site is slow, create a landing page with a coupon for customers who are impacted during the ‘maintenance window’ and test away. Check out our Site Tester if you’re interested in setting up a load test before the holidays.
Your monitoring systems are your first and last line of defense. Once the busy season hits your monitoring systems are the best view into your customer experience. Our biggest recommendation for monitoring is to be sure your systems are holistic. Make sure that you look at the combination of your infrastructure availability, application performance, end user experience and traffic levels as a whole to get the best understanding of your environment.
One final tip is to make sure you monitor your connections to third party systems. Keeping an eye on the performance of your payment gateways and other integrations will mean you have a full view of your customers experience, allowing you to react accordingly.