2 - 4 minute read

The impact of a holiday spike in online customers on your website and sales

impact of a holiday spike

Christmas songs won’t start until the end of november, but for most (online) retailers, the holiday season already starts in October. Shop owners with physical shops start planning their workforce management and ensure enough stock. But what about your website, web shop or e-commerce? How will a spike in online customers impact your online business?

A huge user load can occur with promotion, holidays, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also on days like Valentine’s day. It can even span for a month, when – in a normal situation, irrespective of COVID-19 – customers book their vacation. This spike in traffic is peak load. Peak load defines as the maximum amount of concurrent users on your website within a specific time frame. This high amount of customers boosts sales. Just like producing holiday stock long before december, so is peak load testing your website for a peak in customers and sales.

Peak load testing as part of performance testing

A peak load test is a type of performance test. How does your website perform under heavy load? During a peak load test you’re putting full load against your website or e-commerce platform, to understand whether or not it meets the requirements of the business and users. 

The most common causes of not meeting the requirements, when a website or ecommerce crashes, are: 

  1. Infrastructure and platform solution: the infrastructure is underpowered or under-architected, or poorly configured
  2. Application: the application is highly dynamic or poorly written
  3. Testing: the website was tested, but not the functions your users use most

What is the difference between peak and stress testing?

With a peak load test you test against the forecasted traffic numbers. You will not always know upfront what to expect. Since most systems are not built to scale infinitely, you’ll want to know when the system will break. In order to figure out where the breaking point lies, stress testing comes into play. In this type of test you’ll keep adding traffic until the response times become too high or abnormal levels of errors are seen.

Facts and figures about the impact of peak load

What is the impact of peak load on conversion and sales?

Peak conversion rate
Source: Akamai

The indirect costs of not handling peak traffic consists of:

Average cost of downtime
Sources: Gartner and Blazemeter

The indirect costs of not handling peak traffic consists of:

  • Losing brand reputation
  • Costs for recovery of lost data
  • Losing productivity of employees

Source: Blazemeter

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