Total online sales in the US during Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit a record $5.81bn in 2015. These are dates that, if done right, will leave your virtual cash register ringing. Get them wrong however, and you are practically watching your profit walk out the door…

With that in mind we have created a blog series to help you get your shop in order and maximize on the upcoming sale season! Can’t wait for your weekly tip? Download the whole thing in whitepaper form now by clicking the image below…

So, on to our first topic…

Load Testing Your Website

Having enough traffic come to your site that it causes it to crash may sounds like an unachieveable, and almost enviable, problem to some. But in 2014 the ecommerce websites of retailers Currys, Tesco, PC World and Boots did crash under unprecedented high volumes of Cyber Monday traffic- causing unknown losses.

How could they be so unprepared? Well, analysis from Big Data Labs showed “the traffic at midnight on Cyber Monday 2014 was 157% higher than the previous year”. In other words they neglected the first rule of business (and, indeed, life), always expect the unexpected. And the fact is growth of this type looks set to continue- so now there really is no excuse not to have your store prepared.

But it doesn’t just stop at preventing crashes – the truth is your site doesn’t even have to completely fail for you to be left with frustrated and abandoning shoppers. During Black Friday 2015 the average retailer homepage took 5.31 seconds to load, with the slowest site taking over 13.51 seconds to open. Yet typically it has been shown that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Shoppers may be a little more willing to deal with a slower site for big deals but it is still important to minimize their chances of frustration and maximize your chances for profit.

1. Contact your web hosting provider to discuss the traffic limitations of your store.

As well as the possibility of increasing your hosting service temporarily. Many servers worth their salt should be able to handle increased traffic sustainably without upgrading but to be sure, analyze the data from previous years, as well competitors, to give your discussion a starting point. If you do need to upgrade then check how long it will take to be up and running as there is no point if it won’t be in place for when you need it.

You can check your page speed using the free Google tool PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter your site URL to check how your site stacks up.

2. Consider reducing the size of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Cascading Style Sheets are a simple mechasim for adding formatting to web documents. To make developers’ lives easier these often contain information that is stored in an unnecessarily spaced out manner – stripping out this excess space can reduce the speed the CSS takes to load by up to a third.

An example of Cascading Style Sheets

3. Compress and resize images.

Images can really slow a website down and, by their nature, ecommerce stores have a lot of them. Look specifically for the size of an image vs how it is being viewed on your site – for example an image that is very large but only being used as a thumbnail is going to slow you down unnecessarily. Seeking these out and replacing them, however, can be time consuming so if you need to focus your efforts, we would recommend concentrating on home and and top products pages.

Sites and tools such as TinyPNG (shown above) can help you compress images to the a manageable size.


Tune in next week to find out how to make sure your site is mobile ready for the sale season! Or download the entire whitepaper now, by clicking the image below.


The guide include expert tips on:

  • Load testing your website
  • Getting your store mobile ready
  • Effectively using email in your marketing efforts
  • Removing in-store barriers to purchase
  • Enabling pop-ups to increase conversion and allow for data capture.