Guide to Preparing Your Infrastructure for High Traffic

Every industry has its seasons, peaks, and troughs in its sales calendar that each business needs to plan for. Any successful eCommerce business will be ready for the high-traffic periods of its year and ensure its digital storefront is robust and scalable. Whether your annual peak season occurs during the traditional holiday periods or an industry-specific busy period such as a big event or trade show, preparations should start with stress-testing and protecting the infrastructure of your eCommerce site.

1. Forecast your traffic

When it comes to your organization’s peak season, a data-led approach to anticipating your traffic and potential sales volumes should be used. There are four key pieces of information that are useful in calculating your forecast.  

  • Site traffic for the past six months on a daily and weekly average
  • Site traffic during last year’s peak season
  • The percentage increase for last year’s peak season traffic over the last year’s six-month average prior to peak season
  • The year-on-year percentage growth rate in traffic between last year and this year’s site traffic

The above data can then be used to calculate your expected traffic and sales by following the steps below:

  1. Calculate the forecast for the next peak season by applying last year’s percentage growth against your site’s running daily and weekly averages for traffic.
  2. Use the overall year-on-year growth rate to validate the resulting prediction from the step above by applying this percentage to last year’s peak season numbers.
  3. Check the gap between steps 1 and 2 and plan for the highest prediction.
  4. Consider separately any economic conditions and global events which may impact sales.

2. Load test

With the agreed predicted traffic volume for your next peal season calculated, load test your infrastructure to validate how your site might hold up against the expected traffic. The load test will determine if extra capacity is needed on the server or database. A good Magento Development agency or other specialist software house can carry out the load test on your behalf.

3. Get your site ready

3.1 Increase server or database capacity

Adding flexible capacity to cover just the periods when you expect higher traffic is one option. However, if your site often runs at a high load, consider increasing capacity to meet your peak season demands and future growth.

3.2 Use a content delivery network

A CDN can meet your infrastructure load needs as it can transform your cache, creating a global cache network of your static media files such as HTML, JS, and Style Sheets to decrease load and improve response times.

3.3 Update your caching configuration

Performance needs can be resolved by reducing the number of hits on your server through better-caching configurations.

4. Exercise best practice

4.1 Optimize images

Images are critical to show off your products and encourage purchase, but if not managed well, the resulting image cache can overload your servers and lead to slower page loading speeds. Try to use 72 dpi images that are WebSafe.

4.2 Update your ECE-tools

If using Magento Commerce, make sure your cloud environment uses the latest version of ECE-tools (a set of scripts and tools designed to manage and deploy Cloud projects).  Recent releases of Magento, for example, include improved local development, speeding up the deployment of static content by up to 400%, and self-service capabilities for a more productive deployment by the merchant.

4.3 Ensure no downtime

Configure zero downtime deployments during the peak season. Practicing responsible cloud infrastructure management means that your visitors can shop uninterrupted during busy times with no site downtime experienced.

4.4 Back up your eCommerce site

Employing proper backup management prevents any time-consuming environment rollback. A snapshot of your site allows you to back up and then restore specific environments when it suits you, which can save time if something goes wrong with a deployment.

4.5 Monitor performance

There are many options to choose from when it comes to well-designed monitoring tools that keep a check on your site’s performance. Having a tool in place, or development support in place to monitor on your behalf will ensure there are no surprised when it comes to the execution of your site and the user experience of your shoppers, particularly during high peak sales periods.

5. Above all, resource up! 

If your eCommerce site infrastructure is fully prepared for high traffic, there is no reason for your online shop to not deliver on the expectations of your visitors and your business forecast. If you’re working with a web and app development partner, discuss their support plans for your peak season so that technical and security resources are in place and ready to tackle any traffic challenges.

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