Digital Commerce

Test your store for an influx of visitors

Network outages can cause revenue loss at a rate of $5,600 per minute. Learn how to optimize your store for peak performance.

1 minute, 51 seconds

There’s no worse feeling than facing a network outage that cripples your online store and leaves your customers wondering what happened. If you don’t load-test your online store for an influx of visitors, disaster could strike.

Gartner reports that network downtime can cost store owners $5,600 per minute on average, coming out to around $300,000 per hour. That’s not the kind of money you can afford to lose.

Beyond revenue issues, network outages can affect customer sentiment. After all, would you return to an online store that kept showing you Error 404 messages? Wouldn’t you head to another e-commerce option so you can complete your shopping journey quickly and efficiently?

To load-test, your site, find a software tool that you feel comfortable using, and it’s recommended to read the many reviews those tools attract to gauge which may be the right one for you. Begin with testing the following criteria:

  • Speed – How quickly does the application or site respond to user actions?
  • Scalability – How much traffic can the network handle?
  • Stability – How reliable is application performance under different loads?
  • Responsiveness – How does the site load across varying browsers, and from both desktop and mobile influxes?

Besides embarking on load-testing (which analyzes site performance in the face of an actual workload), you should also engage in spike-testing, which focuses on sudden spikes in traffic. Such a test is especially useful for stores accustomed to traffic influxes during heavy shopping seasons, such as on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

What should be top of mind is testing transactions. Some transactions, such as product searches, tend to be more network intensive than others so you want to ensure you test those actions as much as possible. Also, test actual payment transactions that could occur rapidly during peak shopping hours to ensure optimal transaction processing speed.  

As for how often you should test for high traffic, consider a cadence of monthly tests in order to gain that peace-of-mind many Shopify merchants seek. Come November, increase that frequency to weekly due to the increased volume of customers likely coming through your online doors to shop for the holidays. The more prepared you are, the less likely you’ll encounter stressful emergencies that would have you and your staff scrambling for hours.

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