The holiday shopping season is rapidly closing in and e-commerce sites and services all over the world are preparing for one of the busiest times of the year. With expected traffic spikes on November 29th – Black Friday and December 2nd – Cyber Monday.
The pressure to capture every last sale is even greater this year as it is the shortest holiday shopping season in over a decade.
To understand the grandeur of what is at stake if you fail to meet customer performance demands, let’s recap some stats.
- According to comScore, approximately 57.3 million Americans visited at least one online retail site on Black Friday 2012 (an 18% increase from the year prior).
- On Cyber Monday 2012 alone, sales reached 1.98B and are expected to increase by 17% in 2013.
When it comes to shopping chart abandonment, the stakes get even higher…..
- Some US analysts expect to see a shopping cart abandonment rate peak of 88% in 2013 (~6% above the average for the rest of the year).
- The total cost of abandoned shopping carts for online retailers has been estimated at more than $18 billion per year.
- Even a 1% reduction in cart abandonment can lead to a notable increase in revenue, a $2.6 billion increase in relation to total 2013 U.S. online retail sales forecast.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, but what impact does website performance really have on all this anyway? The answer is, quite a lot actually.
According to Tammy Everts’ blog, one out of five of those carts are abandoned due to slow website performance. Simply put, 18% of shoppers will abandon their cart if pages are too slow. If 18% of that loss can be attributed to slow pages, then this correlates to more than $3 billion in lost sales (across US e-commerce sites) due to poor performance.
Now, while some e-commerce sites are making appropriate preparations for expected visitor load, others are just holding their breath and suffering from ‘the ostrich effect‘ - basically just avoiding to deal with an obviously risky business situation by pretending it does not exist.
Instead of burying their heads in the sand, they should just accept that the risk is very real and extremely probable and start performance testing before it’s too late.
It’s almost embarrassing if they don’t, since cloud-based load testing tools are so accessible and affordable. It was somewhat excusable when you had hardware to install and licenses to buy, but nowadays… seriously?!
In fact, our recent State of Web Readiness report found that while shoppers demand page load speeds in the milliseconds, most e-commerce sites have response times closer to 8 seconds. This could be due to the fact that those same e-commerce site owners surveyed overestimated their website capacity by roughly 3.4 times.
A lot of companies are preparing to meet the upcoming traffic spike and increased activity by taking appropriate measures. Some of those measures are quite easy, we wrote about a few of them a while back in another blog post called “Different types of website performance testing – Part 3: Spike Testing“.
On the up side, you already have some general data about what to expect in terms of traffic spikes. Simply knowing how traffic will trickle in on those key dates will help you to configure more realistic test execution plans.
But make no mistake, if you don’t try out the durability of your site you can’t really be sure that the correlation of all active components of your services – 3rd parties resources or content, feeds, content management platforms, databases and internal systems – will provide for an acceptable customer experience.
Basically what we’re saying is: don’t pull an ObamaCare, load test before its too late.
Listen to Load Impact CTO and CEO discuss performance testing prior to holiday ramp-up on the Rackspace Google Hangout.