Black Friday is coming. Is your online shop ready?

Black Friday Performance Testing

It’s Black Friday.

You are expecting a surge of traffic to your online shop…..

And hopefully, a surge of sales and profit as well.

But when shoppers arrive at your site, ready to buy, they are forced into a queuing system with a recurring 30-second countdown message, that says:

"We're very popular right now! Sorry, we're getting a high amount of visitors on our site. We've placed you in a queue so please leave this page open and we’ll get you shopping again as soon as possible."

If this happened to you, would you hang around for those 30 seconds? Or would you click off, annoyed and frustrated, and go to a competitor site to find a good bargain?

This scenario is a nightmare – but it’s also real. It happened to the Debenhams’s website in 2017, on what it potentially the most lucrative day of the year.

And problems have hit other major retail sites on Black Friday, including Dell, Curry’s PC World and gaming store GAME in 2016. And those are just the ones reported in the press; there are bound to be others.

These are all good websites belonging to reputable companies – and yet, faced with such massive peaks in traffic, they just couldn’t cope.

The damage to your company’s reputation – and revenue

It’s a challenge your site can face, too, not just on Black Friday (which British companies are still getting used to, as it is a relatively new import from the States)….

….but on Cyber Monday, the Christmas shopping period and any other situation where you face a sudden spike in traffic.

Your online shop might be unable to cope with the load, potentially crashing as a result, or slowing down the buying process.

The back-end systems might not cope with the quantity of orders to fulfil. Or perhaps your online shop was not originally built with mobile in mind and struggles with a surge of mobile visitors. This year, shoppers on smart phones and tablets could exceed 50%, some say 70%.

Either way the result is the same: Damage to your company’s reputation and its revenue. This could impact you personally, with stress and professional repercussions mounting as the internal blame-game begins.

Not just a problem for retailers

You might experience similar problems even if you are not a retailer.

In 2011, for example, UCAS was forced to temporarily shut down its website when 340,000 A-level students tried to log onto the UCAS track website at the same time, to find out whether they received their university place.

This generated waves of bad publicity for UCAS, and stress and heartache for the students.

For financial service companies, a similar situation might arise on the day of the ISA deadline….

For HMRC it might be the tax return filing deadline…

And for a global consultancy it might be 100,000 people trying to complete their time sheets at the end of each week.

But these situations can be avoided.

You can find out whether your infrastructure and online store can handle the peaks, by testing it thoroughly – and fixing the issues that you uncover.

The best testing tool to uncover problems before Black Friday

So, what’s the best tool for the job?

Meet StormRunner Load.

StormRunner Load is a cloud-based performance testing tool that was designed for both web and mobile performance testing.

Launched in 2014, it also supports a growing list of applications including Oracle, SAP, and Citrix.

For the Head of Testing, it is a simple, smart, and scalable solution that provides considerable benefit without significant budget. It is extremely cost-effective, as there is no need for a long-term licence commitment.

For the tester, it is easy to create scripts, test, and to understand the test results.

How StormRunner Load is different

So how is StormRunner Load different to other performance testing tools?

Any tool can load an application until performance becomes unacceptable.

However, StormRunner Load’s insights help you understand why the application is slow and identifies where to focus effort to resolve the problem. This saves time and points you in the right direction.

It uses predictive analytics and real-time data to provide problem-solving recommendations.

You can scale your application testing from a few users to 5 million virtual users without needing to add hardware.

It’s also relevant for Agile, DevOps and Waterfall performance testing.

You can test from around the globe, using load generators in the Amazon or Azure clouds, as well as your own load generators. 

You can even simulate real network conditions on LAN, WAN or mobile networks, which is something no one else can currently do. 

Any tool can load an application until performance becomes unacceptable.

However, StormRunner Load’s insights help you understand why the application is slow and identifies where to focus effort to resolve the problem.

Not sure if your testing covers every browser?

There is support for all mainstream browsers, including Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari with new functionality being delivered several times a year.

StormRunner Load is easy to understand, can grow as your company grows, and has no infrastructure to manage.

Have you left it too late?

So don’t wait until it’s too late and get caught off-guard on Black Friday.

If you think that your online shop could be vulnerable, it’s a sign that you should come up with a solid strategy going forwards.

If you don’t move quickly, it will soon be too late for this year. Some of the issues you might uncover simply cannot be fixed between now and then. However, many probably can if you act quickly.

And if you have left it too late for this year…… keep your fingers crossed and good luck!

Is your online shop ready for Black Friday? What have you done to prepare? Let me know in the comments!

Stephen Davis
by Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis is the founder of Calleo Software, a Micro Focus (formerly HPE Software) Gold Partner. His passion is to help test professionals improve the efficiency and effectiveness of software testing.

To view Stephen's LinkedIn profile and connect 

Stephen Davis LinkedIn profile

18th September 2018

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