Is your organization ready for the holiday season? We’re not talking about vacations, white elephant parties, or holiday dinners but is your application and system ready for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season spending rush?

Here are some important facts and interesting insight into the 2016 holiday season and Black Friday.  (source: Adobe release: http://news.adobe.com/press-release/marketing-cloud/media-alert-adobe-data-shows-black-friday-breaks-online-sales-record-3)

  • Over $5.2 billion is spent online for the period of Thanksgiving Day to the end of Black Friday. A 17.7% increase year-over-year. Meaning that over $61,000 is spent every second online that day!
  • Black Friday set a new record by surpassing $3.3 billion. A 21.6% increase YoY.
  • Black Friday was the first day ever in retail history to drive over 1 billion in mobile revenue at $1.2 billion. A 33% YoY increase.
  • Macy’s was the latest victim of websites buckling under the crush of traffic and losing money on the biggest spending day of the year. The previous year it was Neiman Marcus and Target and the year before it was Best Buy.

Macys Black Friday Load Testing

It’s not just e-commerce sites that are affected but search engines, travel websites, local business directories like Yelp or Foursquare, and any website that has content around shopping, retail, product reviews, and more.

News of failure spreads fast via the social media grapevine. Since we continue to see these issues every year it is clear that we need to start earlier and do more. Honestly to not have a virtual queuing system like Queue-It ready for that day is mind blowing. The cost to have it ready in case a virtual avalanche comes at you is minimal when compared with the potential loss of revenue and brand reputation. This allows you to preserve the user experience for the users on your site while others wait in the virtual waiting room to get inside and spend their money.

For most of the large retailers and e-commerce sites the issues were not due to lack of any performance testing but most likely due to unexpected traffic volumes, 3rd party systems going down or business cases that were not anticipated. In other words it was a lack of the right kind of performance testing. It is not possible to anticipate every single possible scenario. But with proper planning you can test for nearly all of them. Just in the few examples provided above, it shows how important it is to not only test your application and system but to understand the anticipated load volumes and workloads.

Here is a quick and dirty holiday readiness checklist as we start to plan now for a successful holiday season:

  1. Analyze historical application workloads
  2. Test to 2X-5X maximum anticipated loads
  3. Test to failure to know now
  4. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile. Don’t skimp on mobile testing!
  5. Know all your 3rd party resources and how to turn them off if needed
  6. Define workloads for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, and other high-traffic days
  7. Test early and often
  8. Analyze performance results
  9. Making required tuning changes
  10. Test and test again until business goals are met

If you would like a free performance test completed on your website or application feel free to contact us. We begin planning for many of our customer for the holiday season in January. It is never too early to start planning.

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