With the two busiest days of online shopping on the horizon, it is vital to test your ecommerce websites effectively.

With the two busiest days of online shopping on the horizon, it is vital to test your ecommerce websites effectively. Last year, ecommerce sites pulled in $6.2 billion on Black Friday alone—roughly a 23.6% increase from 2017. The upcoming four-day period from Nov. 29-Dec. 2 is expected to be extraordinarily busy this year.

Here are six key tips on how to prepare your website for this year’s holiday shopping season.

  1. Monitor site performance across various regions

On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you will have more end users than usual, which means you will need to test for site breakages. If you have a widespread customer base, you should simulate realistic user behavior from various geographic locations. After all, service uptime problems could be due to a regional issue, so it’s important to perform effective geo-testing.

  1. Test your sites in a safe environment and don’t be afraid to fail 

While undergoing stress testing, be sure to test your websites in a safe environment. By using a staging system—as opposed to your usual production server—you can implement a safe and accurate load testing environment, ensuring that your sites do not crash on the big days.

Your information technology (IT) department should be ready for the worst case scenarios. While stress testing your sites, do not be afraid to fail, as failures allow you to discover your websites’ weak points. Perform stress tests based on your expected peak load traffic, and then push your sites even harder—until they crash. By doing so, your IT teams can perform root cause analyses, understand the problems at hand and rectify the relevant issues.

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You should also be sure your database can handle the load, and focus on CPU, memory, disk usage, and network activity, as these are the usual culprits behind declines in application performance. If any of your applications are experiencing issues, take a look at these elements first. If your sites link to a third-party payment gateway, be sure that it is prepared for the incoming connections. You should be sure an alternative gateway is in place in the event the application programming interface (API) fails.

  1. Make sure your IT automation tools work properly 

If implemented properly, your automation tools will rectify problems as they arise, simplifying your tasks and saving your IT team a great deal of time. For example, you may decide to automatically offload your logs to a third-party application when your disk threshold reaches 80%. Rather than writing a script in the back end, you can automate the process to make sure you have always enough space.

  1. Ensure that your mobile traffic is stable and be aware of the anticipated busiest times

All of your traffic should be stable, whether it originates from mobile phones, tablets,or desktop computers. According to a recent report from BounceX, for the first time ever, in 2019, more purchases will come from mobile devices than desktops. 52% of all Black Friday online purchases are expected to come from mobile devices, 43% from desktop devices, and 5% from tablets.

Also, be cognizant of the expected busiest times. Per the aforementioned report, Black Friday will be busier than Cyber Monday, and the peak traffic is expected to occur at 11 a.m. Eastern on Black Friday and 9 p.m. on Cyber Monday.

  1. Have security checks in place

Websites can be vulnerable to hacking, so be on the lookout for any content that has been added to pages without your knowledge. Identify any instances of cross-site scripting, phishing, or other forms of website defacement to ensure that none of your customers are affected. Also, don’t forget to renew your SSL certificates to protect user data and ensure safe and secure transactions.

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  1. Conduct transaction testing and be cognizant of any third-party APIs

If your website uses a shopping cart, be sure to test your transaction pages. Make sure that key transactions like adding to cart and purchase are working without any breakage. Also, test it on different browsers, devices and confirm it is working properly.

By adhering to these tips and conducting thorough stress tests, you will keep your websites up and running during the upcoming ecommerce frenzy.

Srinivasa Raghavan is product manager at website monitoring firm Site24x7

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