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Black Friday - can your website handle it?

By Tom Miseur

Tom Miseur

Tom Miseur - 8 November 2016

It's that time of year again! Despite its questionable origins, Black Friday and the rush to find fantastic deals online doesn't seem to be slowing down at all... but can the same be said about your eCommerce website?

Black Friday, and, lest we forget the potentially more relevant Cyber Monday, are two very important dates for online retailers seeking to maximize profits. Site downtime has the potential to wipe millions of dollars off profits, especially if that downtime lands during the peak of the rush. However, outright downtime is not the only thing retailers should worry about.

In a lot of ways, an online store is very much like a high-street store: there's probably a few different places where you can buy the goods being offered at comparable prices, and so you aren't exactly limited by choice. Consider, then, a store where there's a huge line of people waiting at the checkout, and one just down the street that barely has any queues. The answer is fairly obvious: you'll simply go to the store with the shorter queue.

Online shopping obviously isn't restrained by the number of employees manning service tills, but that doesn't mean that waiting is suddenly no longer an issue. Response times matter, especially when you take into account that walking over to that store down the road store is considerably easier online, where all you need to do is simply type a different address into your browser!

All the evidence suggests that online shoppers are very impatient, and brand loyalty is largely thrown out the window when a user encounters poor web performance. This is why it is crucial to performance test your website to its limits before it goes live.

Just as important is ensuring that your performance tests are accurately simulating the kinds of actions your real users will be performing on your site, and so finding a tool that allows you to do just that is critical. Don't be fooled by cloud-based, "just-put-your-URL-here" sites offering easy-to-use performance testing: often these are simply checking how much HTTP *throughput* your web server(s) can handle before response times become unacceptable, without actually putting any stress on the parts of your system that are likely to cause problems in the first place. A throughput test only scratches the surface as far as simulating real user activity is concerned, and therefore isn't going to reveal inefficiencies in, for example, any modules dealing with your virtual cart, or perhaps the checkout process.

eggPlant Performance allows you to simulate exactly what your real users are doing. Our focus is on making the difficult parts of your system easier to simulate, rather than making the already easy stuff easier. Generation Rules allow you to apply logic to your scripts (data correlation, parameterization, verification) in such a way that the same logic can be quickly and easily applied to future scripts, meaning you can react to changes made to the application without undergoing a script rewrite (hello, agile environments!). Automatic form handling outright removes a significant amount of correlation that one would otherwise need to handle manually. Cloud injectors allow you to test under different network conditions as well as giving you affordable load injector capacity when (and only when) it is needed.

There are lots more reasons why eggPlant Performance is the tool of choice when it comes to accurately simulating real user activity. Don't believe me? Try it out yourself with our recently released Free Edition!